Any Sensory Offenders?

Go Back
Do you or your child experience anything described in the picture? Or maybe...
• You are rushing out of the house, trying to get Suzie to an appointment. You grab her sneakers and hurriedly help her into her socks. She screams, falls to the floor and rolls over. You look at her alarmed and ask about the matter. You are told her socks are itching her.
• The new baby is peacefully sleeping in the cot. Then, he starts to wiggle, he wrinkles his face, stiffens his body and starts to go "Eh, eh, eh, ehhhhh!" Before the sound is even out of the baby's mouth, your other son is running to you, pulling you in the direction of the baby, urging you to pick the baby up while pressing his hands into his ears, suppressing screams himself.
• Maybe you know Cindy-Lou? She's the little girl who has a melt down every lunch time. After trying everything, you suddenly find out that she is triggered by the smells of all the the children's lunches.
So many of our children have sensory processing differences. They do not experience the sensations (visual, auditory, smell, touch/pressure) the way we we do. Sometimes, because they may also not be able to communicate effectively, they may not be able to tell us what they are experiencing. This can be very frustrating for parents and caregivers. I'm often trying to decipher the meaning of some behavior so that I can predict its occurrence and help everyone concerned to live more comfortable lives. It's a task! Especially if you have many people in your home with varying sensory profiles!

So as a parent, what do you do?

1. Prioritize understanding. The most important thing for your child and your family is that you focus on being a loving, understanding presence in your child's life. What would the world be like if 'itching' felt like little knives scraping up and down your feet? You might fall to the floor too!
2. Investigate. Be a happy curious detective about your child's responses. WHen do they happen? What is happening just before? What does your child do? How exactly does he/she respond. Maybe tracking come information (diet, therapies, environmental issues) over a 2 week period can give some clues and help you better understand what's happening.
3. Create a Sensory Profile. Understanding more about your child's sensory system from someone who has a deep and thorough understanding of sensory processing is critical. A few small changes and activities may make a world of difference to your child and your sanity. Check out the Sensory Processing Starter for more information on how you can do that.
4. Change the environment. Yup. We have to change too. I know you want Suzie to wear those bobby socks, but forcing her to do it may drive both her and you crazy. Some adjustments at home and at school may help make everyone's life easier.
Let me tell you about my Suzie. My daughter is a high arousal, neuro-typical child (see more about sensory profiles here). That means she can explain to me what is happening to her. She is oversensitive to so many things. The incident with the socks was just 2 day ago and I wasn't being very understanding at all. Perhaps because she doesn't have a diagnosis I think the principles of loving acceptance can be applied more loosely! One of her sensitivities that I have been more patient with is her visual sensitivity to textures. She feels discomfort in her stomach and feels cold on her skin (with cold pimples in evidence) when she sees uneven surfaces where she thinks it should be smooth (like popped bubbles on the surface of a smoothie or animal feet impressions in sand). It has taken me some time to understand this phenomenon. Now, I offer her regular pressure on her body, and massages, I help her not to see her brothers' food when they are eating/drinking something problematic, I make her smoothie with some attention to its texture, primarily because I want the nutrition in her body and I want quiet.

The sensory offenders in your environment may be subtle, but with a little curiosity and a lot of loving acceptance, you can unearth them and figure out how to make them less offensive. Don't hesitate to call us if you want some help brainstorming this more specifically.

Receive Email Updates