Some kids, like my own, have a more difficult time than others when it comes to processing the five senses. Some sights, sounds, smells and touches make them anxious and overwhelmed.
My son’s hands would go straight to his ears when we turned a certain corner of the grocery store to avoid the humming sound from the freezer section. For a long time, he would cry as soon as we would go into a bathroom anywhere other than home because he was instantly worried about the sound of the flush. There are a lot of missing tags in his clothes because they irritate him to no end. He will not touch, much less eat, foods of a certain color or texture. Haircuts… whew.
Maybe you can relate.
It’s hard because you worry about all of the “what if’s” when you’re trying to figure out these sensory issues. What if they have a hearing issue? What if they are not getting enough nutrients? How can we enjoy a vacation or go to unfamiliar places?
We’re always trying different things to work on sensory issues. Along the way, we found some great accommodations to help our child and others who have sensory sensitivity. Some of these everyday objects have helped more than others but I’d recommend them to anyone because they are worth a try!
Simply fill a small balloon with dry beans! It’s a great way to give kids some quiet and calming sensory input. It keeps their hands occupied and is good for fine motor skills too.
There are many types of fidgets available now at dollar stores and online. They are popular with kids as well as adults! Pop-its, a fidget that is like having reusable bubble wrap, have become a fun de-stress toy for kids of all ages. These are sold everywhere and they are great to keep in the car or in a purse for times when your child is running out of patience (and you are too!) They can positively occupy their hands and minds in stressful situations.https://www.amazon.com/s?rh=n%3A17238448011&brr=1&rd=1&linkCode=ll2&tag=simpol20160c-20&linkId=5e58c5cad9b41fcc9a6ca2400e0f8d7e&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
Weighted blankets are an amazing resource when you need to calm a child with sensory needs. Kids with sensory issues often have trouble sleeping and weighted blankets can help.
Since we homeschool, we can use a weighted blanket at any time needed but kids in a traditional school may not be able to have the same accommodation.
They would still benefit from holding or carrying an object with a little weight such as a bucket with some books in it or you could send a jacket to keep at school. You could also ask if they could be allowed to have access to their backpack, another accommodation described below.
Headphones are a great tool to have for loud events or for use during a storm.
Kids with sensory issues hear sounds differently than most people. The sounds are much louder and harsher on their senses. They still enjoy new experiences but may need some accommodations to feel more secure in their surroundings.
Anytime a child needs to calm down, try using a soft bristle hairbrush or wide paintbrush to apply gentle pressure on their arm. It provides a sense of calm and reduces overwhelming moments.
If you’re in a crowded, unfamiliar place, try letting your child carry a backpack with a few objects in it for some weight. Even better if it latches in the front. It gives them a feeling of security along with the sensory input.
This is also why we took a lightweight stroller to Disney even though our son was old enough to walk. It was more for security and keeping him calm in a fun (but overwhelming) new place full of sensory overload.
Sour Spray (sugar free)
This one sounds crazy but I’ve seen it work time and time again. I’ve recommended it to some of my friends with kids who have ADHD and autism and they have also seen immediate positive results. If a child starts getting frustrated and is potentially headed into meltdown mode, give them a quick spray of sour spray candy. It’s sugar free and, as long as it’s not used excessively, it provides a welcomed distraction.
This was a coloring lifesaver for us. Regular general purpose sandpaper the same as you can find in the hardware store. This tip came from an Occupational Therapist.
If you have a kid who hates writing, coloring, etc., put a piece of sandpaper behind whatever it is they are working on. It also helps to put it on something like a lap desk for a slant or a clipboard.
The texture and being able to feel the input from underneath the paper helps! Give it a try!
Also great for the kid who does not like to write. It could be that they have an awkward grip and it hurts their hands. Pencil grips are cheap and worth a try. Short, golf pencils are easier to help with grip issues too.
I hope something will be helpful to you! In the meantime, hang in there and keep trying different things. A lot of these sensory issues will get better with time, language development and maturity.
What are examples of sensory issues?
Sensory issues can include food aversions due to color/taste/texture, sensitivity to certain materials or tags, and sensitivity to bright lights or loud sounds. Some children prefer constant touch (no sense of personal space) and others do not.
Do students in traditional schools have an IEP for sensory processing disorder?
SPD may be diagnosed as a Pervasive Developmental Delay. This diagnosis can be discussed with a school’s IEP team to determine if an IEP or a 504 plan would be appropriate for classroom accommodations. If a student does not have a medical diagnosis, the school will require a psychoeducational evaluation process.
What are some examples of sensory supports?
Sensory supports may include fidgets, weighted blankets, noise-canceling headphones, assistive writing tools, special clothing, and other modifications to the environment to support sensory needs.