Sensory Processing at Home
Many aspects of home and family life may be affected when living with a child with Sensory Processing difficulties. Some of the main areas affected include;
Personal care skills are the everyday tasks that can include dressing, bathing and toileting. While these are typically supported by adults with the younger child, it is expected that children develop independence in these as they mature.
Sensory processing affects children’s abilities to use cutlery or their fingers to place the food into their mouth. It can also affect their ability to chew and swallow foods. Additionally, sensory processing influences children’s tolerance of different foods textures and tastes.
Children’s sleep can be greatly affected by their emotional experiences that happened during the day. Children with sensory processing difficulties often find it hard to relax into a sleep state.
Home is usually a child’s ‘safe space’ so it is not uncommon for them to let go and meltdown the day’s difficulties when they get into this space. This can make unpicking behaviours even more difficult as they may be reacting to something that has happened earlier in the day.
Key points for parents to remember when supporting a child with sensory processing difficulties:
- Every child is different. They all learn and develop at their own pace.
- Breaking activities into smaller steps can help children to master each step before putting the whole task back together.
- There are different ways to learn – showing your child, talking through the steps, hand over hand practice, pictures to show all the steps.
- Practice independence with self-care activities when you have time e.g. on the weekends.
- Practice and repetition leads to mastery.
- Problem solve together. Try not to take over and correct them but instead allow them to tell you what they need to do differently next time.
- Try to keep routines and possessions organised.
- Keeping an activity schedule or visible calendar can help children remember and prepare for their day and the activities in it.
- Be consistent with rules and consequences.
- Try not to restrict movement activities when you child is being disciplined e.g. taking away outdoor play time when they have done the wrong thing. Your child may need that movement and by removing it, their behaviour may actually become worse.
- Good communication between home and school is very important to support a child with sensory processing difficulties.