Sensory Processing Disorder

Manage sensory issues like an expert

Sensory Processing Disorder can be overwhelming for parents. When a child has extreme meltdowns and problems with daily tasks, it's hard to know where to start.

The good news is, you have the power help. Many SPD treatments can be done at home, and parents and caregivers are the best resources for guiding children toward improvement.

When your child has Sensory Processing Disorder, your daily routine can feel like putting out a series of fires. Don't let your child's Sensory Processing Disorder rule her life and yours. Learn how to take control of your family's routines and your child's SPD with therapies you can try at home. SPD treatment can be a lot of work, but ultimately the work is fun and undeniably rewarding.

Focus on your child

The goals of Sensory Processing Disorder therapy depend on your child's individual needs. Some children are sensory seekers, always trying to go faster, push harder and stay busy. Other children are sensory avoiders, shying away from noises and textures. Just to complicate matters, many kids demonstrate elements of seeking and avoiding. Identify what makes your child feel good and secure and give her opportunities to do those things. It might mean quiet time under a weighted blanket, a few minutes a day on a mini trampoline or special headphones to block out noises at study time.

Learn how to talk to your pediatrician about Sensory Processing Disorder >>

Practice basics

If your child is in occupational therapy, carry out any recommended exercises from his Occupational Therapist. Whether you're receiving recommendations or not, take time to patiently guide your child through practicing tasks like putting on socks, fastening buttons and getting dressed. Try not to get frustrated if your child struggles. Kids with SPD tend to get discouraged easily, so your patience and encouragement can be a huge teaching tool. If your child struggles with handwriting, try a program like Handwriting Without Tears, which is often recommended by Occupational Therapists. Talk your child through transitions and try to stick to a routine if that helps your child through the day.

Learn how routines help special needs kids thrive >>

Integrate therapy and play

Consider using therapy ideas from The Out-of-Sync-Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz. This informative book offers plenty of activities for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder. For kids with SPD, it's important to get moving and get sensory input. Even unstructured play like going to a playground and swinging on swings can help your child focus and reset. Play with unscented shaving cream in the bathtub or make a bowl of Jello and bury pieces of candy or fruit in it for your child to dig out.

Make your own tools

There are plenty of toys and therapy tools available for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder. Many are expensive. If you find that certain sensory toys work well for your child, there's no harm in using them. However, feel free to get creative with what you have around the house. A bowl of rice full of little odds and ends or a cheap ball of silly putty can be highly effective therapy tools. Fill a bin with toys and objects with different weights and textures, such as rubbery bouncy balls and silk scarves.

More on special needs

Answering questions about your special needs child
5 gifts for kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
Games that develop social skills in special needs kids

Tags: sensory integration

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Comments on "How to treat your child's Sensory Processing Disorder"

Angela January 20, 2014 | 5:29 AM

I can't believe how similar the stories are to my daughter who is seven now. It was only about 8 months ago that her clothing became her heartbreak. Every piece of clothing is a struggle and she cries because she can't wear her clothes. She wears one type of underwear, socks, stretch pants and turtleneck! She wants everything to be tight and "suction", her words, to her body so she can't feel it moving. We do OT type therapy activities regularly and are in the developmental pediatrician process. I'm having trouble knowing what to do in moments of crisis when all of our "tools" aren't working for her......please help.

Rebecca January 31, 2013 | 9:23 PM

Staci, That's my 5 year old your talking about, she is un evaluation now. We have seen a physiatrist twice, and just complete an evaluation process. It's frustrating and exchusting, you are not alone. You have given my such relief by sharing your story.

Beth January 30, 2013 | 8:14 PM

My child's manifested itself with her obsession with stickers, tape, post-it notes, et. al. sticky items. She was putting them on her bottom lip so it would touch her upper lip. You'd be amazed at the number of these things you have in your home! She also had some speech delays as well as potty training issues. While it is not as severe as some others have I do find it sad how quickly what would have been her school district dismissed approving her even for speech path. This was after she was already diagnosed and receiving support service from Texas Early Childhood Intervention Program including speech path., developmental services and OT. We actually wound up choosing for our child older child to go to a charter school as a result.

Staci January 13, 2013 | 3:59 PM

My daughter has the same problem with textures. All jeans are either too long, too short, too baggy, too tight, too rough. All "uncomfortable". Underwear feels weird, socks have the seams, the sheets! Very overwhelming. I bought her 600 thread count sheets at Overstocks, seamless socks from The Sock Shop, and still battling the rest. Leggings or knit jeans from Children's place or Hanna Anderson work well. It just keeps getting worse. She is being evaluated tomorrow. I did infant massage with her for 9 months darn it! That is supposed to be a wonderful way to help them after birth and for sensory issues later in life. Right now she wears one of two pairs of knit pants and a few shirts. It is frustrating when we have an event and want her to dress up and she can't bc nothing feels comfortable and the crying starts. So, she wears the old pants and it just looks bad. Hopefully we will have done answers after tomorrow and a treatment plan.

Cathy January 12, 2013 | 8:22 PM

My daughter was like that 6 years one could tell us what it was. After years of battling w underwear fighting crying feeling crazy. Got so bad she only could wear shorts t shirt flip flops. Finally got evaluated by ot. Did therapy w ot 3 months along w home therapy every two hours by me going in to school...very exhausting so hard....but it works. Also gluten dairy free diet and exercise everyday for the rest of her life. She is much happier now. Diet helped as much as therapy. She gets worse in winter when we slow down. Joining indoor tennis club to get better exercise. Her only issue is clothing. All a,s lots of friends, good behavior. Told she will always have this. Still no understanding just dealing

Jess December 18, 2012 | 6:22 PM

I need tips to handle when my daughter has to get dressed for school early in the morning!!! She has problems with head to toe items!! It is a battle everyday. She doesn't like jeans, lines on the socks can't touch the toes, shoes have to be extremely tied tight etc... Help pease

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