By Wendy Harron - July 20, 2012

Sensory in Summer

As summer approaches, the world changes for a child with a sensory processing disorder. The type of clothing you wear, the temperature, the foods you eat, your daily schedule, where you play, the list could go on and on. These changes can put our sensory kiddo’s over the edge. But, there are things you can do to help!!

Listen to your child when they talk to you about what they do or don’t want to wear – maybe that cute sundress with the tie straps at the shoulders puts your child in sensory overload or, it could be nice and cool so it keeps them at the just right temperature. If your child loves to have their feet covered with their shoes and socks, maybe let the idea of them wearing sandals or flip flops go – sometimes it’s just not worth it. Remember, there is a reason they do what they do.

We also need to remember that these children make changes more gradually, requiring a lot of work both in the clinic and at home too. Their system’s can quickly shut down or go over the edge when the type of sensory input is threatening to them. Try to keep some sort of schedule, so they know what to expect on a daily basis, and help them accommodate to new experiences such as the swim club or the beach by planning it ahead of time.

I have noticed that my patients with sensory processing disorders who do IM with me tend to do better with seasonal changes. It seems as if they are more regulated, so they are able to “take things in” more instead of flying over the handle when something changes. If you are doing IM with your child this summer, please do not take a break from their sensory diet activities! These activities can really help your child to prepare for their IM session so they will be able to spend more time focusing on focusing instead of focusing on their sensory issues. I find that preparing the child with some music in the car while sipping from a water bottle and eating a crunchy snack gives my patients a bit of time to relax and regulate. Some wall pushups as they go into the clinic and then a nice piece of gum to chew helps us during our sessions to be calm, cool, and collected.

IM is a great treatment tool for those with sensory processing disorders and summertime may just be the right time for them to participate in IM since they are not in school. I find that they are more alert, willing to participate and less tired than they are at the end of a school day! This might be your chance to give it a try!

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