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Back to School Sensory Triggers

Common Sensory Triggers and How to Avoid Sensory Overload as Your Child with Sensory Processing Disorder Heads Back to School! 

The weather is cooling and fall is just around the bend, which can only mean one thing -- back to school! Starting a new school year can be daunting for any child, but it can be particularly challenging for a student with sensory processing issues. If your child has sensory processing disorder, read the list below. It covers some sensory processing triggers your child may encounter when going back to school with SPD, and some suggestions for avoiding them.

New School Clothes

One of the most exciting parts about a new school year can be school clothes. But for kids with SPD, new clothes can be a trigger, since they often feel uncomfortable or stiff on the skin. If your child is uncomfortable in new clothing, consider buying school clothes early and having your child break them in gradually during the summer. Shop for soft cotton shirts and leggings with comfortable waistbands (no jeans)! You can also buy second-hand clothing for a more worn-in feel. Simple steps like removing clothing tags or purchasing tagless clothing can ensure clothing is comfy for kids with SPD.

Morning Rush

Weekday mornings can often be rushed even without oversleeping and last minute homework to complete. However, a flurry of activity and haste can be particularly difficult for a child with SPD. To avoid this trigger, be deliberate each night about planning out your next morning so you can conquer the morning routine one task at a time. By avoiding the chaos that can overwhelm a child with SPD you'll make mornings a nice way to ease into a day.

Long, Uninterrupted Class Sessions

Many kids with SPD are not in special education classes, but rather in mainstream classrooms. However, some students with SPD may find it impossible to sit still and focus during a long, quiet class session. To help your child focus and make it through an entire class, consider providing small objects to fidget with -- a stress ball, silly putty, chewelry etc. These will allow him to expend extra energy and receive more sensory stimulation than the lesson provides. Be sure to talk to your child's teacher before you send a fidget object to school. You may also want to ask your child teacher to allow for short sensory breaks throughout the day to minimize stress.

Lunchtime and Recess

Lunchtime and recess are a welcome respite during a school day. However, they often present a myriad of challenges for the student with SPD. If your child is supposed to eat lunch in a fluorescent-lit, bustling lunchroom, try arranging with a staff member or teacher to have your child eat in a quieter room with a group of friends to avoid being overstimulated. If your child has a hard time dealing with the unfamiliar feelings of playground equipment, like a cold metal slide, take some time and practice at the playground. Go to parks and playgrounds to get used to the feelings during the summer before school starts. Your child can learn what he can and can't tolerate during recess, so he doesn't experience an unexpected trigger while he is at school.

Whether your child has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder or continues to struggle academically and socially without a diagnosis, we invite you to consider The Brain Balance Program. Contact us today to learn more!

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