Have you ever wondered why your child avoids paint while some kids enjoy touching it? Or have you even wondered why your child hates the bright sun while other kids enjoy playing outside on a hot summer day?
As a child grows and begins to explore their surroundings they learn to firstly notice/register information from their senses, then process it and then respond appropriately. This is called Sensory Processing.
Oftentimes we complete everyday tasks without any difficulty processing information received from our senses. For young children sometimes this information can become muddled, might appear too intense or the information is slow to be noticed/registered. AS parents/teachers, we begin to have worries when the difficulties begin to have a negative impact on their everyday tasks.
Therefore, below are different types of behaviours that you might have seen from your child and listed also are things to help overcome these.
Children with over responsivity are among the most likely to cry, have meltdowns or hit back. These children are more sensitive to sensory stimulation than most people.
- Avoids swings or slides
- Reacts aggressively or severely withdraws when unexpectedly touched
- Complains of clothing tags or wears limited clothing items
- Fearful of unexpected loud sounds (noisy toys, fire alarm, toilet flush)
- Upset at transition times (moving from quiet activity to
- Excessively cautious and afraid to try new things
- Calming activities are those that are regarded as heavy work. Engage them with heavy work which you can do at home such as carrying groceries, sweeping the floor, wiping tables, etc.
- Applying deep pressure to their skin can also be calming.
- Work with the clothes your child can tolerate. This might include loose t-shirts.
- Set up the tactile bins to help your child to become comfortable with how textures feel in their hands. Start with dry textures, move to semi wet and then wet.
- Use earphones to cancel or lower down outside noise.
- Dim lights. Consider coloured light bulbs. Also, Keep sunglasses in the car.
Children with under responsivity are often quiet and self-contained, which may go undetected in infancy, but is more noticeable at toddler age and beyond when children’s job is to play with others.
- Does not cry when seriously hurt (e.g. not bothered by scrapes and cuts)
- Unable to perform a task using his/her hands without watching his/her hands
- Must be touched when his/her name is called to get attention
- Seems indifferent to messy hands, face, or clothing
- Often spacey or tuned out in his/her own world
- An alerting activity could be followed with a heavy work activity to help your child to become calm and re-focused for table-top work or before returning to class after yard time.
- A weighted bean bag/cushion could be placed on their lap when sitting to complete task.
- Sensory cushion to be placed on chair.
- More opportunities to touch in their day using tactile bins, sand bins/boxes, baking, messy play and arts and crafts.
- Include more opportunities for blowing, sucking, chewing, crunching in their day.
- Foods to include in lunch box that are crunchy, chewy e.g. dried fruit, roll/bagel, granola bars, carrot slices, apple.
- Encourage use of a vibratory toothbrush.
- Playing barefoot in the grass or in sand box.
Children with Sensory Craving have an insatiable need for sensory experiences and actively search for sensation often in ways that are socially unacceptable. What may be perceived as bad behaviour is sensory related.
- Appear fidgety and may also be hyperactive
- Restless at school constantly seek stimulation
- Frequently dysregulated by sensory stimulation
- Seem extremely disorganized become demanding when search for input is stopped
- Constantly enjoys crashing, bumping, and rough-housing
- Excessively spinning, swinging, rolling
- Seeks vibration, watches spinning objects
- Angry or explosive after being still for a short time
- Have seating that allows the child to stand/move easily, such as a “wiggle” seat cushion, ball chair or bean chair.
- Provide movement activities with “thinking activities.”
- Provide and let the child use fidget objects to keep hands and feet controlled.
- Provide smaller spaces when able.
- Have child do “heavy work” (put chairs up on desks, push heavy box of balls out for outdoor play).
- Don’t take away a child’s playtime because their work isn’t done. This will make the behaviors worse.
Children with motor sequencing and planning difficulties have challenges in coordinating movements, such as dressing, playing catch or misjudging spatial areas.
- Appear awkward and clumsy
- Have poor core strength
- Difficulty running, jumping, hopping, skipping
- Poor balance on playground equipment
- Poor crayon/pencil grasp
- Slumps sitting in chair or on floor
- Poor planning and sequencing of tasks
- Allow children to work in alternate positions (on their stomachs on the floor, standing, on a vertical surface such as the chalk/white board).
- Incorporate activities that will strengthen core muscles such as sit ups, crawling, climbing up and down, etc.
- Fine motor activities such as cutting, threading, clay, slicing, scooping, pouring or slotting in.
- Coordination activities such as throw and catch, pushing of ball, climbing up and down the stairs, etc.