Whether your child has autism, sensory processing disorder, or other sensory needs, you want them to feel comfortable. There are many uncomfortable locations for children with sensory issues that you need to learn how to workaround. In today’s post, we are going to talk about the top seven locations and ways to help support your child in these situations.
7 Uncomfortable Locations for Children With Sensory Issues
By Dylan Bartlett of Just a Regular Guide
You don’t need to keep your child in a bubble, of course. Handling certain situations with forethought will improve their quality of life and makes them feel loved. With that in mind, consider the following seven locations which are potentially problematic for children with SPD, or sensory processing disorder.
1. The Mall
Crowded shopping plazas can wreak havoc on children with sensory issues. Even quiet stores contain a ton of stimuli. Overhead fluorescents cast an uncomfortable glare, and various shiny objects invite touching.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid going to these locations. Ways to make the trip better for your child could be using noise-canceling headphones and limiting the excursion to 30 minutes or less. If you have someone who can watch your child during this time, that also might make the trip easier for everyone.
Sometimes it can be a struggle to find someone to watch your child with special needs. Check out this post on how to find a babysitter for an autistic child for some great ideas.
2. The Playground
Taking your child to the park provides them with exercise and opportunities to socialize. But if your little one has sensory issues, the sights and sounds may overwhelm them.
One way to reduce the extra stimuli is going to a smaller, neighborhood park. This way, there will likely be fewer kids and less noise to cause sensory overload. If this isn’t an option, trying going to the playground during a less busy time of day.
Another option to help with going to a playground is to find a gated one that has only one entrance and exit. This way, if they do have a meltdown, you won’t have to worry about them running off.
Some playgrounds even have special quiet spaces for children who need a break from the excitement. If possible, take your young one to a park with this kind of amenity. If not, advocate for improvements or rally other parents to create a place.
Imagine walking into work one day, and your co-worker hurls a water bottle at you for no reason. You’d think there was something seriously wrong. But children deal with that kind of chaos in the classroom daily.
School can prove challenging for all children, but especially those with sensory issues. While teachers and support staff receive training to handle these matters with sensitivity, the reality of overcrowded classrooms leaves some students feeling stressed regardless. Advocate for your child by requesting accommodations like allowing them to take a time out in a quiet corner when they need to.
When your children do come home from school, do allow them time to decompress. Something as simple as thirty minutes alone in their room can do wonders for the rest of the evening.
4. The Doctor’s Office
Few people enjoy sitting on hard, plastic chairs for an hour while thumbing through last year’s magazines. But for children with sensory issues, visits to the physician seem like slow torture. Strange medicinal scents assault their noses, and at the end of their interminable wait, they get poked and prodded.
You need to take your child for regular checkups to keep them healthy, naturally. While a family practitioner can be a great option, it may work better to see a pediatrician for your child’s well and sick checkups. Many pediatric offices offer a calmer and more child-friendly environment. These offices are also extremely understanding of special needs and will help to make the proper accommodations.
When your child is tired, they are likely to be affected by sensory overload. Another great option to make going to the doctor easier is to schedule a morning appointment. Doing this will ensure your child isn’t tired.
5. The Car
Some kids love nothing better than a semi driver cruising past while blowing their horns. That said, the motion and noise of driving can be painful for children with SPD.
Using noise-canceling headphones is a great option when there are siblings in the car. These noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones are a great option to use with tablets and other smart devices. Also, if you can space their seat away from other children it can lessen meltdowns.
Sometimes, the best way to avoid sensory overload is with distractions. If your child can read or draw without getting carsick, provide activity books on road trips to help distract them. If they suffer motion sickness, playing a movie on a tablet might help.
Also, make sure to take frequent rest breaks on longer journeys. This way, they can stretch their legs and unplug their minds from the scenery zipping by at 55 MPH.
Imagine being shoved into a tiny metal box and hoisted into the air. That’s how an airplane feels for children with sensory issues. They don’t yet understand the necessity of air travel, and the experience is often a negative one.
Airlines must always provide accommodations for people with disabilities. If standing in line at security tests your little one’s patience, request a wheelchair for them. Give them earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to cut the rumbling and honor their need to open or shut the window cover while in the air.
If they can handle chewing gum, make sure to have some on hand. When the air pressure changes and causes their ears to pop, it can be excruciating. Chewing gum before and during ascent/descent will reduce the amount of pressure on their eardrums.
You may love to dine out whenever you get the chance. It saves a lot of time on preparation and clean-up. But your child may find restaurants intimidating or frustrating if they suffer from sensory issues. There are new foods with different textures and smells.
Even if your child orders food, they may not be able to finish it. Never try to coerce your child to clean their plate. No, you don’t want to waste food, but doing this teaches your young one that they shouldn’t listen to their own body. Doing This can set them up for a lifetime of unhealthy eating patterns. Plus, you create feelings of fear associated with food.
Do make sure to praise your child for sampling unfamiliar cuisine, but don’t force the issue. If they take a bite of moo goo gai pan despite their reservations, reward them with a fortune cookie — or pure praise.
Handle Sensory Issues with Love
Children with sensory issues deserve to have their feelings validated. By approaching their needs with sensitivity and care, you teach them to honor their inner voice and help them to thrive. These tips will help you make accommodations to help your child through sensory stimuli.