How to handle sensory processing disorder

If you suspect sensory processing disorder might be the problem, the very first thing to do is start documenting your child's behaviour. Write down anything you find unusual and when or why your child reacted that way. This is very helpful when you go for a diagnosis.

The most beneficial treatment is occupational therapy, particularly with a therapist who specialises in SPD.  They will work with your child and give them various exercises to do. 

SPD at home

There are also things you can do at home, in addition to professional treatment. This will, of course, depend on what your child needs:
  • For the bumpers and crashers... let them bump and crash.  Provide opportunities for active play (jungle-gyms are great) and let them have different types of soap in the bath and lots of bubbles and toys. 
  • Give them fun touchy activities like finger painting or a sand box with goodies. Anything active outside like ball games and supervised swimming is great.  The more energy they release, the calmer they will be.
  • For the reluctant touchers, try easing them into experimenting by giving them irresistible tasks... such as new doll's clothes that have lots of zips and buttons, helping you bake cookies and rolling the dough, or stroking a new pet.
  • Empathise with your child's preferences - cut off the labels in their clothing if it bothers them, comfort them if they spill their drink AGAIN (it's distressing for them too), and give them more time to get dressed in the mornings.
  • Break tasks into small, manageable chunks and encourage them to help themselves.
  • Build on their strengths - think ability, not disability. What are they really good at?  Praise and encourage that.  Children with SPD often stand out with their mastery at certain tasks, quite simply because they approach it in a completely different way.
Read more about the diagnosis and symptoms of sensory processing disorder.

Does your child have any sensory problems?
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