If a child in your life has a problem with sensory processing, you may be wondering what you can do to support him or her. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can offer support. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart because my youngest son has always had sensory issues. After years of therapy, I have learned a lot as a parent, which made me a much better teacher when helping children with the same issues.
I am confident that most people know someone with sensory issues. It doesn’t matter if you are their parent, teacher, favorite aunt or Sunday school teacher. It takes a village to raise a child and you are probably part of a few villages. Understanding how to support children with sensory issues is very helpful to their parents and to them. It also helps you to have a realistic expectation for the child so you do not try and keep them accountable beyond their capabilities. We should only expect from a child what they are capable of.
Here, you’ll discover new ways to support kids with sensory needs:
- Find out what the child’s triggers are. It’s easiest to offer support when you understand the child better. Does she hate being cold or touching something cold? Does he bite himself when it’s too noisy? Identifying triggers can help you provide solutions. Remember that what works for one child may not work for every child. As parents, we are always looking for solutions to maintain the peace. Understanding triggers helps us to prevent meltdowns and tantrums. Remember it’s not always an act of defiance but an expectation that puts the child over the edge.
- Offer items that may help the child. Noise-cancelling headphones (I always kept the big, bulky ones that didn’t work anymore and cut the cords off of them), weighted blankets (which can be easily made at home), and stimulating toys can all make it easier for the child to cope. When my son was young, he needed a fidget. He kept a small car in his pocket and would turn the wheels with his hands. It was a quiet solution. He understood that he could not play with the car and it had to stay in his pocket. He was very compliant because he knew that he needed his car to fulfill his sensory needs.
- Have patience. It can be easy to get frustrated with children with sensory needs, but it’s important to be patient and stay calm. When we get upset, they get upset. They always feel that something is wrong with them and it hinders their confidence. It takes time to figure out how to support them so try and give them some grace and yourself too.
- Reach out to people close to the child. It’s worth talking to the child’s parents, teachers, or doctors to find out what you can do to help support a child with sensory needs. Knowledge is power, so be sure to reach out to anyone who can help you learn more!
These are just some tips on how to support kids with sensory needs! Remember that every child is different, so it’s a learning process. Just because you found something that works this year, that doesn’t mean it will work next year. Be open minded and most importantly remember to love this child unconditionally. It’s hard for us to be the supporter but it’s even hard to be the child who cannot adequately express what they need or how to make them feel better.
Keep learning & loving.