You ask, we answer! A question we received was “Sensory Toys only do so much, what else can I do to help my child with sensory-processing challenges?”

You ask, we answer! A question we received was “Sensory Toys only do so much, what else can I do to help my child with sensory-processing challenges?”

You ask, we answer! A question we received was “Sensory Toys only do so much, what else can I do to help my child with sensory-processing challenges?”

Supporting a child with sensory processing needs most times goes beyond providing them with sensory toys. While these toys can be beneficial, they are just one piece of a larger puzzle in helping your child navigate the world. Here are some strategies you an incorporate in addition to sensory toys to provide a more comprehensive approach to your care.

1. Provide Active Listening and Emotional Safe Spaces

Creating an environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their emotions and sensory experiences is crucial. Active listening not only validates their feelings but allows you to understand specific triggers and comforts. This understanding can guide you in tailoring your responses and the environment to suit their needs better.

2. Encouraging Effective Communication

Teaching your child how to communicate their sensory needs is empowering. It gives them a sense of control and helps them articulate what they require in various settings, especially in public or social situations. Role-playing can be an effective tool in practicing these skills. Ask your child questions about how they would approach a specific situation and go from there! Is there something they can do differently with their response? If so, talk about it and then have them answer the same question again. This allows them to process and learn from your response.

3. Educational Partnerships

Collaborating with teachers and special education professionals can ensure that your child receives consistent support across all environments. These partnerships can lead to tailored educational strategies that accommodate your child's sensory processing needs, making learning more accessible and enjoyable for them. This can not only help you with learning and coping, but can also help your child! You can have your child meet with a few chosen professionals that work in different ways but also allow the child to build trusted relationships. This can be a teacher, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, an ISR swim instructor, or even a gymnastics teacher!

4. Structured Physical Activities

Incorporating structured physical activities, such as gymnastics, physical therapy, or even swim lessons such as ISR can significantly benefit children with sensory processing issues. These activities not only help in the development of motor skills but also provide sensory input in a controlled, therapeutic manner. They can improve your child's ability to handle different sensory information.

5. Creating Routine and Predictability

Children with sensory processing needs often find comfort in routine and predictability. Establishing a daily schedule that includes time for structured activities, relaxation, and play can reduce anxiety caused by unexpected events or transitions. Many times, the caregiver or parent can create a large board where the child can use to "check off" things that they have completed. For example, morning routine and bedtime routine have very specific things that need to be completed - use a resource that allows your child to mark it as complete! This provides them with routine and ownership of their own schedule.

6. Sensory-Friendly Home Modifications

Consider making modifications to your home environment to make it more sensory-friendly. This can include creating quiet zones, using soothing colors, and incorporating textures that your child finds comforting. Another special area of your home can be for when the child feels that they need to express their emotions in a place that is not the "quiet" corner. Some children need to have their "sensory meltdown" and creating a space for this to happen can be very beneficial! They begin to feel that it is okay to have the feelings that they are experiencing but then when they step out of that designated area, they know that it is time to notice and get more of a handle on those feelings, perhaps even then step into the quiet corner or find something that helps regulate. These modifications can help your child feel more secure and relaxed at home.

7. Consultation with Specialists

Continuing to work closely with occupational and physical therapists can provide ongoing support and guidance tailored to your child's evolving needs. These professionals can introduce new strategies and activities to support sensory integration and can adapt interventions as your child grows and their needs change. The Dr.Sensory Team is working on a resource to provide you direct contact to professionals you are seeking.

8. Educate and Advocate

Educating yourself about sensory processing issues can empower you as a parent or caregiver. It allows you to advocate effectively for your child in various settings, from school to social gatherings. Sharing knowledge with family members and friends can also foster a supportive community around your child.

Incorporating these strategies can help you provide a holistic support system that addresses both the physical and emotional needs of your child. Remember, each child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It's essential to continuously adapt and fine-tune these strategies based on your child's feedback and comfort levels.

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