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Kids with sensory sensitivities often have trouble enjoying everyday activities like play dates and school functions. Extreme sensitivity to noise, crowds, touch, textures, bright lights, bothersome clothing, and new experiences are often so overwhelming for kids with sensory problems that it can run their lives and the lives of their parents. When symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily functioning, it is often referred to as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and can be co-morbid with anxiety disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Find below some tips and strategies to help parents keep sensory sensitivities in check so kids can focus on growing, playing, and learning:

1. Earn Their Trust
Children with severe sensory issues often feel out of control and seem to be in “fight or flight” mode most of the time. Let your child know that you understand his issues are real and that you are working on a concrete plan to help minimize his stress and sensory overload. It may sound simple, but parents should do what they say and say what they mean, particularly for kids with special needs. This will help your child feel confident that you are in charge, that he is safe, and that you will be his advocate.

2. Manage Sensory Exposure
If your child has sensory problems, it is critical to stay ahead of known triggers to minimize meltdowns. For kids with hypersensitivity to noise, try giving them a quiet place at home they can go to when they feel overwhelmed and need a break. For older kids, it may help to give them a watch or timer so they know exactly what time a bothersome activity or environment will end. If your child has extreme sensitivity to certain types of clothing, go through his wardrobe together to determine which pieces are tolerable and which ones aren’t. Be an advocate for your child by explaining to others what sensory problems are and how they can help minimize your child’s distress. If possible, create small kits for dealing with sensory problems on the go so you’re always prepared. Kits should include ear plugs for noise, sensory fidgets to keep hands busy, and sticky notes to cover sensors on automatic toilets and hand driers. You may also want to include some headphones and a music player with their favorite music or a book for older kids. Staying ahead of your child’s sensory sensitivities by being prepared can go a long way in minimizing distress.

3. Schedule Silence
If you have a child who is hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, particularly noise and touch, he may benefit from scheduled silent time. Wake your child 15 minutes earlier in the morning to enjoy a favorite activity before school. Whether it be reading, computer time, or a game, make sure your child is quiet and undisturbed. Give your child at least thirty minutes of quiet time after school to rest and reset before bombarding him with questions or commands. Before bed, allow another 30 minutes of quiet time to unwind. Swinging and rocking are beneficial for organizing the senses, so quiet time can include those activities as well.

4. Seek Professional Help
Could your child with extreme sensory sensitivities benefit from increased confidence, better motor skills, and improved sensory integration? Brain Balance Achievement Centers offer the Brain Balance Program® in 57 nationwide locations and growing. After completing a comprehensive assessment of your child’s brain and body function, we integrate physical, sensory-motor, and cognitive exercises with simple dietary changes to optimize brain function and reduce or eliminate negative symptoms and behaviors. Each child’s program is unique to his or her struggles. Contact us today to learn more about our program and take advantage of our special Summer offers!

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9 thoughts on “Minimizing Sensory Overload In Kids With Special Needs

  1. Thomas Anderson

    I have Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome, otherwise known as Misophonia. Any suggestions on how to deal with this Sensory Processing Disorder?
    Thanks.

    1. Brain Balance Centers

      Thank you for your interest in Brain Balance! For adults, we suggest seeking out the services of a Functional Neurologist (http://www.acnb.org). A Functional Neurologist uses a non-medical/non-pharmaceutical approach to working with disorders.

  2. Pingback: Sensory Integration | familychildcareacademy.com

  3. Lisa

    We use earplugs. It’s really helps my son cope with loud sounds. I also looked into a Development Optometrist. I read in Temple Grandin’s book that distractions that impact the ability to focus on their work can come from different color contracts (black type on white paper) or certain lighting, like fluorescent which tent to flicker. Most of us don’t tend to notice this in our daily lives, but to a person with sensory issues, who knows to what extent it effects them. Since he’s always had some sensory issues, I thought it would be good to check out. Although he did not end up needing visual therapy, he did need glasses.

  4. Pingback: Study Reveals Brain Stucture Differences in Kids with SPD | Brain Balance Achievement Centers

  5. susan serra

    Just found this-recommended from a friend. My daughter is 6 and is in kindergarten. We’ve had a few very minor sensory things (aversion to cleats in soccer, seams in some socks, etc) but after started kindergarten, it got much much worse, and kind of exploded all over the place on a disney trip for the halloween party when she went to put on her batgirl costume. We started OT and I am now looking into changing up our diet-with the Fiengold diet and am just reading all I can. I wonder if this is a something that she would benefit from. She also has some sensory modulation issues-gets very angry if a kid accidentally shoves her in tag or gets in her space, stuff like that.

  6. Janet infante

    My 5 year old son had a hard time with loud noises, and certain clothes. It is so hard every morning and a constant fight trying to dress him for school. Everything bugs him, from his socks being to tight to his shoes and his shirt would hurt him to his pants touching his legs. I am so glad I looked into it and finally found wat he is dealing with I had thought it was OCD at first. Any advice from anyone that is going through the same thing as me please I would really appreciate it!

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