Special Needs Parenting: Supporting a Child with Sensory Processing Issues

by Guest Author

A sensory Processing Issue is the inability to process information through our senses, including touch, hearing, sight, taste, smell, balance, proprioception, and pain. It can also be described as a difficulty understanding how or why we feel something. For example, when your toddler bumps into things, it might not matter if he feels the bump because he doesn’t understand what “bumpiness” means. When your child has SPD, she may have trouble knowing what is happening to her body. It can cause problems at school, where it becomes difficult for teachers to know whether your child needs help or not.

Two kinds of sensory processing issues exist, and many children experience both at some point during their development. One is oversensitivity or also known as hypersensitivity. It leads to sensory avoidance, which means children don’t want to experience certain things they find unpleasant (such as loud noises). The other is under sensitivity or hyposensitivity. It leads to Sensory-seeking behavior that makes kids want to seek more sensory experiences. Some children may be both sensory avoidant and sensory seeking. They may be over sensitive to sensations and also under sensitive to others.

Children’s reactions may vary from one day to another, or even during the course of the day, depending on their surroundings or situations. Sensory processing disorders aren’t specific learning disabilities. But they can have an impact on learning.

What Are The Most Common Signs That Your Child May Have SPI?

There are ways to tell if your child has SPD. Here are three signs that could indicate they have SPD:

1) Your child often avoids activities and objects that make them uncomfortable. They may refuse to go near new clothes, furniture, or toys, even though they enjoy those things. In addition, your child may resist being touched by caregivers or strangers.

2) Your child has difficulty interpreting their own body’s messages. For instance, your child may not seem bothered by a loud noise but will become upset if you touch them in a way that hurts.

3) Your child may have unusual behaviors. Your child may appear anxious when too much activity is going on around them or when they are tired. And your child may withdraw from people who are speaking to them loudly.

What Causes Sensory Processing Issues?

The causes of SPD are still unknown. There are theories about why this happens. Most experts believe that SPD is caused by an interaction between genetics and the environment. It is thought to occur due to neurological differences in the brain. 

Some studies suggest that children with SPD have a higher rate of autism spectrum disorder than typical children. It is because some symptoms of SPD overlap with those seen in autistic spectrum disorder.

It is important to note that SPD does not mean that your child cannot learn. Many children with SPD can learn and succeed academically. However, they need extra support.

How Do You Know If Your Child Needs Help?

It is important to remember that children with SPI need help just like any other child does. However, they may have different ways of expressing themselves than others. Some children will use physical gestures to communicate, while others may prefer words. If your child seems to have difficulty communicating with you, it could be because he doesn’t understand how to say certain things.

Your child’s teacher should be aware of any communication challenges he faces. Teachers can work together with parents to find ways to support their children.

How To Support a Kid With Sensory Processing Challenges

Parents can help their children manage sensory processing challenges by providing them with the following supports:

  1. A Quiet Place Where They Can Relax

If your child needs to calm down after a stressful situation, give them time alone to process what happened. Parents can help by giving their children space to unwind at home. You can keep your child occupied by reading stories or doing puzzles.

  1. An Area Where They Can Play Safely

Children with SPD tend to avoid places that are noisy. They might enjoy playing outside during the day, although they may want to limit contact with other kids because of their anxiety. However, at night, they may enjoy watching movies or listening to music.

  1. Positive Reinforcement

When your kid does something right, let them know. Tell your child that you appreciate their efforts. Reinforcement helps your child learn to recognize good behavior. It also helps teach your child that they deserve positive attention.

  1. Time-Outs If Necessary

Sometimes children get into trouble for no reason. It is best to take away privileges when this happens until your child learns not to misbehave. Children with SPD often don’t realize that they are being disruptive. As a result, they may need to be taught to behave appropriately.

  1. Teaching Tools

Some children with SPD have an easier time learning when given visual reminders. For example, they may benefit from flashcards or pictures of objects. Other children might respond better to auditory cues. For instance, they might enjoy having books read aloud to them or songs are sung to them.

  1. Learning Tools

Children with SPD sometimes struggle with math and language skills. Some teachers suggest that children who have problems with math might benefit from teaching tools such as flashcards, picture schedules, and calendars. Language learners might benefit from repetition, modeling, and practice strategies.

  1. Good Nutrition

Sensory issues can make eating difficult for some children. This problem is particularly common in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Your doctor can check your child’s weight and growth rate and recommend a diet that meets their nutritional needs.

  1. Quality Time Spent Together As A Family

Having quality time with your child is one way to boost your mood and overall well-being. Spend time talking about your day, going for walks, or enjoying activities together. These simple pleasures can help you deal with stress and feel more relaxed.

  1. Consistent Routines

Routines provide structure and predictability. If your child has difficulty coping with change, establish regular bedtimes and mealtimes. Routines also help your child develop self-control.

When Should I Seek Treatment For My Kid?

If your child has been diagnosed with SPI, it is important to get professional assistance as soon as possible. Early intervention helps prevent negative consequences such as academic failure, emotional distress, and social isolation.

SPI is not always easy to diagnose. Your child’s doctor may refer you to an occupational therapist or a psychologist in some cases. Both professionals specialize in helping children with special needs. They can assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses and recommend appropriate therapies.

Children with sensory processing issues need support from their families, schools, and communities. Asking questions about your child’s experiences and taking steps to address any problems that arise are essential parts of supporting a child with SPI. It takes time and patience to work through these different approaches to help your child cope with sensory processing issues. But your efforts will pay off when your child becomes a confident, well-adjusted adult.

Author Bio

I’m Andrea Gibbs Born, raised, and still living in New York. I’m a work-at-home mom with a background in business development, strategy, and social media marketing. I’m a blog contributor at Baby Steps Daycare in Rego Park, New York to motivate and educate other parents about how they can get their children ahead of the game in school.

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