Children that have been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, otherwise known as SPD, can live very uncomfortable, sometimes even painful, lives as they respond differently to different sensory experiences around them. Sensory processing disorder is a medical condition where the multi-sensory integrations in the body are unable to fully interpret or comprehend what is happening all around the child. The implication is that the child will become over sensitive to a number of elements. However, how to help a child with sensory processing disorder starts in the day-to-day mundane life.
One way to really work with how to help your children with sensory processing disorder is to learn tips and tricks on how to surive outings. If you can learn how to help your child with sensory processing disorder handle outings, they will be able to handle many other activities that come his or her way.
All of these listed are different types of over-sensitivity issues that children with SPD could have:
- certain kinds of foods
- certain kinds of grooming products
- texture (fabric)
Their sensory glands react too much to these elements in a way normal children would never react and this creates a huge discomfort to them. This can lead to a lot of stress for the child, and in some cases, even panic attacks.
If your child suffers from sensory processing disorder, it is important for them to integrate with other people and develop their social capacities as any other child would. When you and your child go on an outing, there are a number of things you can learn to do with how to help a child with a sensory disorder.
Let your child know what to expect
Before you leave the house, talk to your child. Let them know what to expect. You can go over the game plan for the day, step by step, and even pre-address any stressors your child may already have. Since you already know what triggers your child will have, you are giving them a place to talk about it in a comfortable setting. When they go out, they will be better prepared to handle the situation when it occurs because they will already have the resources in hand.
Track their signs
When you are out there, keep on the lookout for when there are signs of a possible panic attack. When you see the stimuli, remove them from such places to shield them from a possible meltdown.
Always try to avoid places where there are too many triggers. For instance, if your child reacts to overcrowded spaces, try to find alternative ways to get somewhere so that you do not have to pass them through places that may be tough for them. Noticing is half of the battle- if you can start tracking the signs it will help with how to help your child with sensory processing disorder.
Children are distracted easily and you could use this to your advantage with your child with SPD. When you come across one of the elements that has the possibility to trigger a panic attack, try to distract their minds from that with something more interesting.
Have something in hand that they love. For instance, you can carry their favorite toy with you and let them have it when the panic seems to settle in.
Another idea is to create a few inside jokes with each other. When your child starts to get nervous, you can mention the inside joke. This will start the process of de-stressing your child.
A hug and snug works too
When they are really scared and out of their depth, just scoop them into your arms and hug them. Give them a good snug and let them know that you are there and everything will be alright. Kids respond positively to love and this will reassure them that all will be well.
Carry an outing kit
If your child reacts to elements that you can control with devices, have them ready every time you go out. For instance, if noise is the culprit, carry noise-canceling headsets. If the light is the problem, carry sunglasses and so on. Sometimes for a child even just knowing that the kit is there if they need is comfort enough for your child to succeed.
What is the #1 secret in how to help a child with a sensory processing disorder?
Remember that no matter what, their comfort comes first.
It can be easy to want to help them battle every trigger they have. It can be even easier to do this full force, which can be seen as a bit abrupt for a child. The reason for that is that a child may have to partially do this on their own time. Every child learns and grows differently. We take a lot of time to try to convince our children to do things on our time versus the other way around. If we slow down, and try to help them learn on their timeline, it will show long-term benefits instead of the short-term benefits we are most likely thinking about.
Yes, they need a lot of encouragement to battle these triggers. And yes, as a parent, you are the best person for the job. You know your child better than anyone else. This means you can work with them on facing anything that comes their way.
But forcing a child into an uncomfortable situation can sometimes make the situation worse by adding stress to the child. It can actually prevent those long-term benefits we are hoping for. It may aggravate their symptoms. Sometimes parents do this unintentionally, and then wonder why no progress is being made.
By using the tools above, you can start to slowly prepare your child. You can walk the walk with them and be their biggest support. You can help them handle any sensory issues that arise.
Comment below: how do you best help your child with sensory processing disorder survive outings?