Being a parent is a hard job but being a parent of a child diagnosed with SPD is incredibly difficult. Sensory Processing Disorder is when your child has a difficult time identifying sensory stimulation and giving an appropriate response.
As a parent, you are able to understand your child’s needs better than anyone. You can identify the situations that make them uncomfortable and how to make them feel safe when they feel out of sorts. Being aware of a situation that can cause your child distress can help you avoid situations and if not possible, how to calm them when they become upset. Here are some tips to help you get through those difficult times!
Remain Calm & Count
When your child is having a difficult time they don’t mean to become irrational. They are not being malicious. They are unable to calm themselves and are looking for help. I found that counting helps through a transition. For example, if your SPD child does not want to share, counting to 10 then having them share with their sibling helps. It allows them to get ready for the change. Then counting to 10 again to then return the toy back to the child will show them that they will get another turn. Eventually, you can count to 20 and then use a timer. It is important to start slowly, calmly even if your child cries. Use a calm low voice to help talk them through the activity.
Talk Them Through Their Emotions
As a parent, you will be who they turn to. They will look to you to calm them, educate them and validate them. Teach them problem-solving skills to assist them when they need them. I have told parents to use a quiet area with music, weighted toys, fidgets, and to make a safe space for them to self-regulate.
Find Your Village
The saying it takes a village is something you should definitely listen to. You will find parents, therapists, doctors, teachers that can help guide you. There are many supports in your area that you may not be aware of. You should surround yourself will people who are understanding and willing to share information with you that can make your life a lot easier.
Be Kind to Yourself
Parents often blame themselves or wonder if they are handling this situation correctly. Remember, you are doing a great job and the reward will be worth all the time and energy you put in. Your child will be thankful. I know because my son thanks me for helping him. He was my firstborn and had visual impairments, poor self-regulation, and issues regarding tone. He went through OT, PT, Play Therapy and is now a straight-A student. He is a well-adjusted 16-year-old boy. I was his advocate to make sure he received proper supports. I am beyond proud of all that he has worked through.
If your child displays areas of difficulty, speak to your pediatrician and get referred for assessments that will allow your child to grow and become independent!
Sarah Appleman MS, OTR/L is the author of “Play With Your Food” and is a specialist in her field.