Thursday, August 5, 2021

4 Steps for Supporting Children With Sensory Processing Disorder

One of the most common signs of autism spectrum disorders is sensory processing disorder. People with this condition have trouble reacting to stimuli in standard ways and may struggle in environments that are overly loud or crowded. If your children have been diagnosed with sensory processing issues related to autism, take the following steps to support their wellbeing and development.

1. Understand Their Progress

You need to monitor your children's sensory processing development so that you know when they're nearing overload. Signs of overload include crying, shaking, having problems focusing, and displaying irritability. These reactions are all ways of exhibiting that your children need to find a safe space, but you don't want to wait until this point to remove the harmful stimulus. Instead, use a diagnostic tool such as the SPM-2 to assess your children's sensory processing benchmarks. The tool gives you advice on how to handle the moments when you lose track of your children's mental health and suggestions about your occupational therapy options.

2. Work With Professionals

Taking the responsibility of your children's emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing onto yourself alone is too much for you. Thankfully, there are many professionals waiting to help you. Talk to your primary care provider about autism spectrum disorder specialists who your insurance company covers. Work with guidance counselors and the special education department at your children's school to make the best educational plan for them. By including these experts in your efforts to support your children's sensory processing needs, you reduce the chances that they will reach overload.

3. Skip Experiences That Trigger Sensory Overload

Some people with sensory processing disorder engage in exposure therapy, reaching new SPM-2 benchmarks as they become accustomed to previously triggering stimuli. Regardless of whether your children are in exposure therapy, avoid taking them to places that you know overwhelm them. For example, if one child has trouble with loud noises, taking him or her to a basketball game or concert is a bad idea. If another becomes overwhelmed by flashing lights, the movie theater is not the best place to spend your Friday night. Unless your pediatrician or therapist suggests otherwise, choose family experiences that are easily enjoyed by everyone.

4. Avoid Value Judgments

People with conditions such as autism spectrum disorders have long faced discrimination, harassment, and prejudice. Thanks to legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, attitudes towards people with special needs are improving. However, as you track your children's progress, you must be careful to avoid reverting to value judgments about your children or allowing other people to make value-related comments. For example, you should celebrate your children's accomplishments, but you should not see meltdowns or signs of sensory overload as a failure. Demonstrate your love and support to your children, regardless of how well their occupational therapy is progressing.

Caring for children with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders can be challenging. Keep these four tips in mind to maximize your resources, minimize burnout, and prioritize your children.

WPS is a leading publisher of autism and sensory processing measures. Learn more about the new SPM-2 today!

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