*As part of sensory processing awarenss month I have teamed up with some amazing bloggers for a series on Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors. You can find more posts related to sensory processing HERE. This article may contain affiliate links, however all opinion expressed are my own.*
We have a daily battle in my home. No, it’s not your usual morning struggle between mom and child trying to get dressed and out of the house, it is between my daughter and her socks. There are certain socks that go with certain shoes. Certain socks feel “right” and others don’t. If at that moment the sock is not cooperating with her and her shoes, then she breaks down. Not just a tantrum, a full on meltdown. This happens nearly every day, with her socks, her shoes, her pants, shirts with tags–if it doesn’t feel right she cannot function. I know now that she just has some Sensory Needs that her brain just won’t process without, but to get to this point was quite the roller coaster.
When she was 18 months old she would get herself wound up and bounce off the walls, literally. We called her the human pinball machine, running in circles and bouncing off couches, jumping into and onto cushions, crashing into the floor. At three she had a severe issue with transitions-crying when it was time to leave the house only to finally calm down once we were in our car on the way to a store. Once we arrived at the store she would have a fit again when it was time to get out of the car. She would calm down after a few moments in the store only to have a meltdown again when it was time to leave and get back in the car. And the process repeated itself. By the time she was 4 she was chewing her nails, straws, and shirt sleeves. And at five it was only soft clothing–I cut the tags out of shirts and pants, and she mostly wears leggings and dresses. Everything has to be soft, nothing constricting or rough or itchy. She now struggles daily with her clothing, she chews on everything, and is quite the fidgeter in class.
When you read about the child I described above you might be picturing a completely unruly child. But I assure you she is not. She is very bright and does extremely well in school. She has friends. Loves to play and participates in sports. She is an otherwise typical child with a few sensory needs.
How do I know she is Typical? When she was two or three we talked to our pediatrician who referred us on to other specialists. When they met with her we were basically told “she is in normal ranges for everything so we’re not really sure what to tell you”–in other words, she was a typical child with a few little ‘quirks’ and they had no answers. Then a friend and neighbor suggested I look into Sensory Processing and I found so much information that fit with her. She has no diagnoses because she is an otherwise typical child. Through research on Sensory Processing disorder we were able to see some patterns, and I was even able to make connections to my own sensory needs.
If you are reading this and thinking that some of the things mentioned sound a lot like your child, you are probably right. Many, or MOST children have sensory triggers. Are you aware of them? Have you seen your child do something in response to a trigger (like a meltdown over an itchy tag) or refusing t eat their dinner because it has tomatoes in it, and not sure what to do? Or maybe your child had a negative response to something and you can’t figure out why your child would be acting out. The simple answer is it most likely a response to a sensory need. We all have sensory needs, but some more than others, and some just cannot process them the same.
What are some common Sensory Triggers?
- tags in clothing
- sock seems
- rough fabrics
- food textures
- loud noises
- sudden noises
- strong smells
- bright lights
- fast paced environment
- grass or dirt
What are some common behaviors?
- tapping, such as a pencil on a desk
- chewing on pencils, straws, or other non food items
- nail biting
- refusing to eat certain foods
- covering ears
When my daughter was a toddler and these triggers were starting to present themselves we were completely at a loss for what to do. Now that we are aware of her triggers we know how to avoid them and what to do if we run into one. We know now that only certain socks will do. We know now that she really won’t wear denim, and if there is a tag in a shirt that isn’t soft it must be cut out. She uses a water bottle with a squishy spout while at school to keep her from biting her nails and chewing on pencils and I give her 5 minute warnings when we are going to be changing activities or getting ready to leave somewhere. When you know your child’s triggers you can avoid negative behaviors.
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As this is Sensory Awareness month I have partnered with a group of amazing bloggers to share their stories and tips on “Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors”. If you are looking for more information on Sensory Processing and what you can do to help your child I highly encourage you to check out Project Sensory. There you can find much needed Information on Sensory Processing and purchase Sensory Fix products that can help your child.