- Posted by spectrum
- On October 16, 2017
Does your child have difficulty concentrating?
Do they ever get a bit fidgety?
Are they sensitive to noise or light?
Are they a picky eater?
Are they less responsive to conversation?
Have delayed response times or seem disinterested?
Do any of these happen at school, resulting in your child being called naughty?
Well these could all be the effect of being hyper sensitive or hypo sensitive when it comes to sensory processing.
What is sensory processing and why is it important?
Sensory processing is the intake of all the sounds, noises and lights happening in the world around us. For some children, especially for those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Asperges), they might have difficulty interpreting and integrating all their senses. Certain stimuli may over stimulate them or they may be under responsive to it. Being able to balance your sensory input is an important, if you experience difficulties with sensory processing it could be difficult to pay attention, follow direction, or even think of anything else. Being under responsive to sensory input might mean that you would have a delayed response in understanding what you have heard, felt, seen, smelt or tasted.
What is impacted when we have difficulties with sensory processing?
It’s the seemingly small things in everyday life that can be effected if you have difficulties with sensory processing. You might have difficulty paying attention at school or when people are talking to you. It could be difficult to follow instructions, or do all the things you would usually do in your day. For these kids it is difficult to focus on anything other than the sensory output that is being bothersome. Often an overload of sensory input can result in a ‘meltdown’. The child may have difficulty regulating themselves and their emotions, have difficulties with social integration, poor sleep habits and rigid routines.
For the Kids who are Hyper Sensitive
What does this mean?
You may even be wondering, why is my child so sensitive to noise, but is the noisiest person in the family? Well the answer to this one is simple, noises, especially loud noises, can be unpredictable or unexpected. By making their own noises, it helps to drown out the unpredictable and sooth with expected sounds.
Being hypersensitive means that sensory processing and stimulation may be overwhelming. This means that perhaps too many unexpected or unpredictable events are occurring and they are unable to take it all in and begin to feel overwhelmed, before it brews up inside too long resulting in a meltdown.
It is important to recognise that each child will have different triggers and will exhibit their sensory overload in different ways, this could be through ‘meltdowns’, hand flapping, rocking, making noises. For each child it will be different, so be on the lookout for your child’s trigger.
What are some strategies to manage sensory processing?
- Reduce Visual stimulation- avoid places with bright lights
- Use a Visual schedule
- Use Visual timers
- Cut down on over stimulating foods and beverages
- Lower noise level
- Wear sunglasses when outside the home
- Use Soundproof headphones
- Turn off the television, put down smart phones and tablets
- Limit your computer access
- Plan in advance whenever possible
- Do Yoga
- Practice Deep Breathing
- Use a Sensory box filled with favourite toys to pick one as a comfort toy
- Move to a quiet place
- Sit on a fidget cushion
- Curl up under a weighted blanket
- Wear a weighted jacket or vest
- Use of a fidget toy
What does it mean to be Sensory Seeking?
What does this mean?
If a child is sensory seeking or craving, this may mean that they are being under stimulated. They may be highly interested in light, sound, smell, movement, or tastes. They may be present as being overly responsive or under responsive. They may have difficulty focusing, be constantly moving or talk excessively.
What are some strategies to manage sensory seeking?
- Whole Body Messy Play
- Sitting on a Fidget pillow
- Visual schedule
- Visual timers
- Lie on the floor with legs up against the wall
- Wheelbarrow walking
- Eating spicy food
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Completing an obstacle course
- Playing with play dough
- Climbing in playground
It is also important to recognise that every child is different, what works for one might not work for another. So, feel free to mix and match and try each of the different strategies until you find the one that is just right! But remember, there can always been too much of a good thing, so boundaries and limits are still important!