6 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Sensory Processing Issues
Sensory Processing Disorder: Sensory Processing Disorder is related to the brain and senses. It arises when the brain has a problem controlling and understanding the input of senses.
According to a definition by WebMD, SPD is defined as a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.
In this blog, you’ll learn about
Different types of sensory processing disorders
How to help your child cope up with each disorder
There are four types of Sensory Processing Disorders namely,
Visual - related to vision (eyes)
Auditory - related to noise (ears)
Olfactory - related to taste (ears/tongue)
Tactile - related to skin (touch)
Let's break down each type and understand how you can help your child cope.
Children with Visual Sensory Processing Disorder have a problem with inputs related to vision.
Here are a few ways to help children with such difficulties:
Do not be strict with eye contact: Children with Visual Sensory Processing Disorder might find it hard to maintain eye contact with anybody who is talking to them. Do not force them to look at you when they are talking to you or vice versa. Forcing them to look at you might disturb their concentration. Instead, let them know that it's ok not to look at you, ease out the situation and ask them to acknowledge the fact that they are listening. If you are showing them something, then guide them to look at it.
Everything related to brightness and lightening: Bright lights might be upsetting, ensure that you are modifying brightness and light settings accordingly. Buy different dim light bulbs that are not very gloomy but are soothing to the eyes. Sunlight may be irritating to a few children, for which sunglasses are can be an ideal solution. Even at school, request their teacher to situate their table in a cool and well-shaded place.
Reduce the clutter: A mix of different colors may be stressful to their eyes and also make it hard for them to concentrate. Use subtle colors in their room and keep everything organized, so that they can sleep easily.
Children who struggle with Noise Sensory Processing Disorders related to noise levels may find it hard to hear sounds. This makes it hard for them to cope with noises - for example, noise from a drilling machine or the sound of an airplane, and so on.
Here are a few ways to help children such difficulties:
Inform them in advance: When you are taking your child out, tell them what they would be hearing and how to handle themselves in those situations. Even a car horn could bother them, so prepare them well in advance so that no sound would take them by surprise.
Hushed tones to the rescue: Keep earplugs, noise cancellation earphones, etc. on hand always. You may have to try out different types of ear protection to find out which best suits your child’s needs.
New experiences: The moment you step outside, your child is forced to listen to all kinds of different noises which may not go well with them. When you want to take your child out, say to a supermarket, or an electronics showroom, it would be a good idea to call the store in advance and inquire with them during what times they have the least crowd. You can then take your child during that time.
OLFACTORY AND TASTE
Children with Sensory Processing Disorders relating to olfactory/taste issues may face difficulties with certain tastes and smells. For example, the scent of flowers or the taste of milk might bother them.
Here are a few ways to help children with such issues:
Keep track of food allergies: Your child may be affected by particular tastes, and this may change from time to time. Their schedule has a direct impact on how they feel about what they eat. It is a good idea to keep track of every action and its immediate impact on their food intake.
Interpret the relation between smell and taste: There is rarely a case where taste and smell are not related. Our taste buds identify taste and olfactory senses determine the essence of the flavor. This is the main reason why smell plays an important role for children with taste sensitivities.
A quick taste: Children with sensitivities cannot eat the same thing every day. Introducing them to new tastes and flavors is important. Place the bowl in front of them and help them become comfortable with the new dish, reveal ingredients to them, so they can identify the ones they already like.
Children with Sensory Processing Disorders related to tactile issues always will want to avoid touch from any person. They are also sensitive to certain fabrics and are often overwhelmed and irritated when there is physical contact.
Here are a few ways to help children with such issues:
Take them shopping: Allow them to choose fabric they find most comfortable. Make sure you allow them to use bed sheets of their choice as well. Basically, everything they touch should be suitable and comfortable to their skin.
Physical touch: Most children with tactile sensitivity do not like anyone combing their hair or touching them. Prepare your child before you decide to groom them or want to take them for a haircut.
Find different ways to show love: As a parent, you may feel tempted to hug your tiny one tightly in your arms, but that is not generally possible with children with Tactile Sensitivities. This doesn't mean there is no other way for you to show love. You can do so by talking, gently taking them in your arms with their consent, and wearing fabric they like to touch.
These were few tips to help your child to cope up with different types of Sensory Processing Disorder. Would you like to share a few of your own tips? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.