Sensory processing disorder and visiting at Christmas

Visiting family and friends at Christmas with Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory processing disorder and visiting at ChristmasChristmas is a time when we go visiting a lot of family and friends which can be difficult for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder. But when it comes to Sensory Processing Disorder techniques to help with Christmas, what works for one individual will not necessarily work for another. You need to look at the individual’s Sensory Make-up – each of the seven senses (vision (sight), tactile (touch), auditory (hearing), gustatory (taste), Vestibular (movement & gravity), olfactory (smell) and proprioception (sense of body position, from information received through the muscles, and joints – force, speed and control) and whether there is a problem filtering with too much, too little or a mix of the two) and determine what their individual needs are based on that.

Problems visiting Family & Friends for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder at Christmas

The individual with Sensory Processing Disorder may very well not like change: The brain is already struggling to make sense of the World without added pressures of it constantly changing. At Christmas people often go visiting friends and family that they do not see regularly, which can be hard on the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder. Added to that is the environment can be greatly heightened with lights, noise, and extra people – which can be quite an overload for the resister or they may want to touch, hug squeeze more (for example) if they are a Sensory Seeker.

Sensory Processing Strategies for Coping with visiting family and friends this Christmas

Planning. If possible know as much about what is going to happen as you can. This means you can prepare. Knowing how far it is, how long you will be, what will happen, who will be there will greatly improve the likelihood of smooth visiting.

How far: Will they need something to keep them calm on the journey. We have a ds, tablet and in car dvd player.  If there is an unexpected long journey with have apps on our phone. Although this is advice for any child to stop them becoming bored when visiting family and friends, for those with Sensory Processing Disorder it can help them calm down and remain focused.

How long: Knowing how long visiting will last can help better prepare the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder. Make sure you explain things in terms they understand; for example with the use of time. It would be no use telling our Sensory Seeker that we would be visiting until 7pm, but he would understand if we told him that the visit would end by bedtime. It also helps prepare for whether other things need to be packed – do they need to take an activity, favourite toy, ipad/ds, etc – are they likely to have an “accident” and need a change of clothes packing, will they need something to ensure they eat/drink – like a special cup? Are their Sensory Issues likely to become a problem whilst they are there? Do you need to take things to help deal with those issues whilst still there (will you need a weighted blanket/lappad with you, head phones, eye mask/sunglasses, squeezy, chewy or favourite toy.

What will happen whilst visiting and who will be there: if you can talk to them before you go then they can be prepared. If it is a party situation then it may be noisy – music and party poppers, or additional lights (see this guide on parties as it will be pretty similar). Is it possible to arrange a safe place to go, do they know where the toilet is – or who they should ask about it? Will there be people they do not know? Do they know what to do if someone wants to hug or kiss them? If they do not like it may be they could offer a hi-five or to offer to shake hands instead. Have they got something to help them cope if they want to kiss/hug people more than is socially acceptable (I tend to get him to come and give me a bear squeeze instead).

If you can think of any other problems and/or solutions for visiting family and friends at Christmas for the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder then please do reply below.

Mark Warner Mum Ambassador Entry

Mark Warner Mum Ambassador Entry

mark warner mum sensoryIntroduction to Sensory Processing Disorder

You know when you can hear a tap dripping and it stops you from concentrating on what you want to focus on?Well imagine that happened for every sense that you have. The brain takes in masses of information from all the senses and filters out the ones it does not need. Sometimes this filter does not work properly (and this can be true for everyone) – but when this happens a lot it may be a sign of Sensory Processing Disorder. Sometimes the filter lets too many signals in, and other times not enough. Because of trying to sort out all the information, it means that it is a lot more difficult to concentrate on what is really wanted to be focused on. This can result in limited attention span, dietary issues, toileting problems, speech and language delays, developmental delays, and social delays – and so on. Our Sensory Seeker struggles to hold a pencil, still has accidents in the daytime (this has got a considerably a lot less) and wears drynites to bed. He can find it hard not to touch people and objects – even if they are dirty (objects not people) or the wrong temperature! He can get over or under stimulated by his sensory environment. He likes to spin, tip upside down and boy can he JUMP! He can be a bit of a risk taker and needs careful supervision. But, with the right support, he is progressing SO well and actually a better way to describe him is as a 5 year old boy who wakes up every day happy, just trying to get on with his life.

Mark Warner Mum sensoryProblems for Those with Sensory Processing Disorder with Holidays

The Sensory Seeker is unable to think flexibly – this means it is hard for him to imagine what happens in the future,  making change difficult. He needs as much information as possible prior to it happening. Even small changes (such as getting a twin instead of bunk bed) can feel like something major. Sometimes other sensory input can help deal with such changes (or a DS to distract him). His understanding is more limited than his peers and he has difficulties with  expressing his needs and fears. He struggles socially – such as empathizing with others (and that they do NOT want him to put his hands around their neck!). Coping with situations such as waiting, dealing with crowds can be a problem due to lack of attention, physical needs (toileting), touching others, being over or under-simulated. They may have dietary issues – not like things touching or only eat a select range of foods. The child with Sensory Processing Disorder may have to have their needs put first – impinging on the needs of other family members.

Why The Sensory Seeker should be part of the Mark Warner Ambassador Team

Mark Warner Mum Ambassador EntryObviously The Sensory Seeker is just one 6th of our family – but as a whole we just like to get on with things. Despite the range of ages we try to get out and have some action and be as normal as possible. Why I think we would make a great Mark Warner Family is so that the company would benefit from us helping to show other families with special needs in the family that they too can just enjoy a “normal” holiday. We would show how Mark Warner make this possible from the planning stages of a holiday (where is suitable, what we can do to help familiarise a child who does not like change), to what things need to be taken into account and/or are available whilst on the holiday for the member with special needs, to the calming down (and rebooking) and aftermath of the holiday. I am currently building up a series of videos on YouTube of what it is like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and demonstrating the hope, for those newly diagnosed, as our own Sensory Seeker progresses so well with the right help.

We would like to be Mark Warner Ambassadors because I want to help others who are in a similar position. The whole reason I set up this second blog was so that families had access to the information they need to make their lives easier and the person with Sensory Processing Disorder more enriched. I think that skiing would meet the needs of The Sensory Seeker’s sensory diet: the visual and touch properties of the snow, the auditory and attention of listening to instructions, hand-development holding the equipment, proprioception and vestibular senses whilst on the slopes, and helping to develop his self-esteem and self-confidence.

Of course we are like every other family that we love holidays – action, relaxation, etc. But also with extra care being needed for The Sensory Seeker on a general basis it is always good to make sure we spend quality time with the other boys. The oldest will not be coming as he is doing his final year at A-level and then off to University, but the other two are only 11 and 7. The 11 year old has just started a new school and the 7 year old starts a new school next September. They are very smart children and am sure that they will pick things up very quickly (like they did in their first ski training session). They are both becoming very independent and would relish the opportunity to go off on their own to kids club, whilst I like to be a whole family – and so a holiday that encompasses it all would be ideal.

This is my application for to be a #MarkWarnerMum – thank you for your consideration.

Our Little Angel

Our Little Angel – The Christmas Production

Our Little AngelOur Sensory Seeker had his school Christmas production today. I guess you could say like a lot of other 5 year old boys. And that is exactly why I am writing this. Because today our Sensory Seeker wasn’t a boy with difficulties – he was a little Angel. He was no more supported than any other child in his year group and he was just fine!

Okay he may have poked the Star (character) when he was meant to be pointing at her. But her remember to point, no-one had to tell him to. No-one helped him on or off the stage. He just did it all by himself. And when he repeated the performance for the second time in the evening he kept his attention and another parent told me how well he had done.

I am so proud of how far our little Sensory Seeker has come and I am so excited about how far he has yet to travel.

Ethans Escapades

Hot Chocolate Santas – Teacher Gifts

The recipe for a successful Christmas with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder has to be to understand their needs and fulfil them. Our Sensory Seeker thrives on structure, organisation and routine. Continuing on the theme of teacher gifts this week we made Hot Chocolate Santas. We made them for his brother’s teachers and also as a build up to a family night watching Christmas films, eating and drinking chocolate.

Things needed for Hot Chocolate Santas

Hot Chocolate SantasHot chocolate powder

Mini-Marshmallows

Cellophane (or food bags)

Glue

Cotton wool

Eyes (googly or stickers)

Red Pompom

Red Paper

Cups

Extras – chocolate drops, chocolate sprinkles, squirty cream, chocolate to eat

Method for Hot Chocolate Santas

Hot chocolate SantasTake the cellophane or food bag and make into a cone shape, secure in place. Take the red paper and roll it around your cone to make a hat. Remove the hat, secure together and glue on some cotton wool to the bottom.

Next fill the cellophane bag with hot chocolate – make sure that the bag has been properly sealed and that the powder isn’t falling out.  If you wish you can add some chocolate drops in first – this will make it less likely that the powder will fall through and will not be seen under the hat (as well as being a tasty surprise).
Hot chocolate Santa GiftsMake sure you have left plenty of room at the bottom to put lots of mini-marshmallows to represent Santa’s beard. Then sealed the cellophane closed and tie with a red, white or silver ribbon. Stick on the eyes, the red pompom as a nose and attach some cotton wool as a moustache. Pop your Santa into a mug. When ready tip the cottons into the mug with warm water and add squirty cream and sprinkles. Drink whilst snuggled up under a blanket watching Christmas films with the family.

Benefits of Making Hot Chocolate Santas for those with Sensory Processing Disorder

Hot chocolate SantasThis was beneficial for our Sensory Seeker* because it helped keep him grounded. It was good for his tactile stimulation, hand development, hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor, logic and order (knowing which ingredients to add next) speaking and listening (when asking how to do something), sense of belonging & importance. Of course he really liked the taste too and allowing him to eat the chocolate whilst doing the activity really helped keep him focused/hold his attention to the task.

*Note that The Sensory Seeker is not actually featured in this post but his older brother. the benefits of the activity still apply.
Christmas-countdown

Co-Hosted by Blue Bear Wood ~ Milk, Crafts & Honesty ~ The Sensory Seeker ~ Rainy Day Mum ~ My Little 3 and Me ~ The Gingerbread House ~ Adventures of Adam ~ The Mad House



Christmas Tree Hand Made Biscuits Gifts

Christmas Tree Hand Made Biscuits Gifts

Christmas Tree Hand Made Biscuits GiftsWhen you have a child with special needs I think that a Hand Made Christmas gift for their teachers is a really special touch. The teachers know that The Sensory Seeker does not cope with the change of routine that Christmas brings, and how hard he has worked at making their gift. Not only does it help show the progress he’s made but it also helps him cope with his Sensory imbalance. This year he made Christmas Tree biscuits – which I then simply packed into cellophane, tidied some ribbon round and added a bow.

Hand Made Christmas Tree Biscuits Gifts

The recipe to make the biscuits is slightly more complicated but The Sensory Seeker used an all in one mix which seemed to work okay.

Christmas Tree Biscuits Ingredients

250g Softenend butter, 140g castor sugar, 1 egg yolk, 300g plain flour (plus extra if it is to sticky and for the surface/rolling pin), orange flavouring

For Decoration: Ice sugar, colouring, sweets.

Christmas Tree Biscuits Method

Christmas Tree Hand Made Biscuits GiftsMeasure all the ingredients. The benefits for The Sensory Seeker were that he had to listen, follow instructions and his attention/patience were stretched. I often had to change my use of language to be simpler for him, or less abstract to him. For example after weighing the sugar and flour they both needed tipping in together. But both items were white and some The Sensory Seeker did not understand the instruction tip the sugar in with the flour. But when I told him to put the contents of the white little bowl into the green big bowl he was able to understand.

Mix together all the ingredients. The Sensory Seeker started by stirring with a spoon, this was beneficially for him learning to try and stop himself from just touching things. I did then let him mix it in with his hands – which is good for his hand development as well as getting the desired tactile sensory input that he requires.

Next the mixture was rolled out and Christmas Trees cut out using cutters. If you have no cutters I am sure a Christmas Tree shape would be easy enough to make with a knife. They were then baked in our fan oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes (watch the biscuits and smell them until they are ready). Let cool before decorating.

Decorating the Christmas Tree Biscuits

Christmas Tree Hand Made Biscuits GiftsSimply colour some icing green and pour over the Christmas Trees. Whilst this is still wet decorate with stars and circle sweets (to represent baubles). When this has dried squeeze on more coloured icing to represent tinsel.

Turning Christmas Tree Biscuits into Hand Made Gifts

To turn the Christmas Tree Biscuits into beautiful Hand Made Gifts then simply shape some cellophane around them (we got ones with Christmas Trees on from Ebay), and secure it in place with sticky tape. Make it more of a gift by added some ribbon in festive colours and a bow.

Christmas Tree Biscuit Gifts Benefits and Problems for The Sensory Seeker

Christmas Tree Hand Made Biscuits GiftsMaking the Christmas Tree Biscuits provided a lot of benefits to The Sensory Seeker, but there were also a few problems to overcome. Whilst making the mixture up I also talked to The Sensory Seeker a lot: This was good for his auditory sense, following instructions, and his understanding – as we discussed concepts such as number, texture, etc. He has made great relationships with the staff at school and it was great to see him taking such pride in the activity. This is great for his sense of self and of his World (thinking about others). I was actually really impressed with him asking if it was time to start the next section again when he was allowed to play on computer games. The activity was great for his hand development with mixing, rolling, cutting, transferring (the biscuits onto the tray), and fine motor for adding the sweets. Most of these also helped his hand-eye co-ordination and his sense of place. He was able to meet many aspects of his Sensory Diet such as adding in some orange flavouring, which is good for the sense of smell, whilst giving the biscuits a Christmas feel. The Sensory Seeker DID need to wash his hands A LOT as inevitably he ended up touching. The surfaces also needed a lot of cleaning. The Sensory Seeker was particularly unable to resist the butter and had to be stopped from giving the (cooked) biscuits a little kiss (to give his teachers his love). It was a great way to let him become more aware about hygiene. Sitting still is quite difficult for The Sensory Seeker so the biscuits were made in stages. He also sat on a stool that allowed him to spin around and around in circles getting his vestibular input.

Note for parents: This activity may require a lot of patience and result in a lot of mess. We did it in the kitchen (with easy wipe surfaces and floors) and not far from the sink.

Christmas-countdown

Co-Hosted by
Zing Zing Tree, Bluebearwood, Rainy Day Mum, The Boy and Me, The Sensory Seeker, Adventures Of Adam, Thinly Spread, Best Toys For Toddlers, The Gingerbread House, My Little 3 And Me, The Mad House,



reindeer crafts

Reindeer Christmas Crafts and Weekly Kids Co-op

Reindeer Christmas Crafts

There is nothing better than building up the excitement to Christmas with some crafting. I find that the structure also helps my Sensory Seeker cope with the sheer chaos of Christmas and lack of routine. Sven is a favourite character from the hit film Frozen and so I thought that this year our Sensory Seeker would appreciate making some reindeer Christmas crafts.

Reindeer Christmas CraftI love this little craft as it is so simple but so personal. Simply cut out the shape of the head and paint brown, whist also making 2 hand prints. Once dry glue together and add a tissue paper red nose, and two black eyes. Thread it up with a “Stop here Santa” sign and one at the back to hang up.

This was good because my Sensory Seeker LOVES to paint. And the cutting, sticking and threading is fantastic for his fine motor development.

Or what about letting them lose with tape to make a Reindeer – for a mess free craft idea. It can be made by letting them stick freestyle, or you can draw the lines on the paper for them, or they could copy from an image in front of them. Afterwards you could let them colour inside it or glue some glitter and/or Christmas shapes inside.

Or if your child has some patience then why not make a Reindeer from a toilet roll holder. We painted him brown and let him it dry, before simply adding the eyes, pompom nose and feather ears. This was part of our Toilet Roll Holder Advent from last year.

Reindeer Crafts from The Weekly Kids Co-op

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

Last week saw a couple of Reindeer Christmas Crafts appear on the Weekly Kids Co-op and so I am also featuring them here. I would love to see many more link up this week.

reindeer crafts

Rudolph Craft for Kids – Love and Marriage Blog

reindeer crafts

Reindeer Shapes – My Bright Firefly

Christmas Cards and The Sensory Seeker

Christmas Cards and The Sensory Seeker

How we are going to cope with Christmas this year is to be organised. I have cut right back on any blogging opportunities because I know that what is important is my Sensory Seeker (and the rest of my family). So far we have some Christmas lights up – helping to break him in slowly whilst providing a bit of Sensory input. The major difference this year is that our Sensory Seeker has already written all of his Christmas Cards.

Christmas Cards and The Sensory Seeker

Christmas Cards and The Sensory SeekerMy reasoning for our Sensory Seeker writing his Christmas cards now are for several reasons. The first is that the Christmas tree is already up at school, he has seen Father Christmas and is starting to rehearse for the Christmas production. This means it is the beginning of him requiring a bit of extra special care and attention to the spiralling confusion that is Christmas. Our Sensory Seeker is doing well so far – with just the one question on his lips, “Is it Christmas tomorrow?” I shall be glad when advent comes so he can visually see how many days there are left. I know as Christmas gets closer he will just get more disorientated with it all and tired. As I have already mentioned he is struggling with his writing and the school are considering him using an iPad – so writing cards is no easy task for him. I wanted him to have the best opportunity to write them and too close to Christmas I felt was fighting a losing battle. Plus after he has managed to write all of his Christmas cards I would just hate for a child to be off sick and not receive it!

Quality Time with Sensory Seeker writing Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards and The Sensory SeekerWriting Christmas cards has given us a bit of quality time together, as I help sound out the words, plus guide his spacing and positioning of the words. I love to see how our Sensory Seeker has developed so much since last Christmas, his writing and his attention span. He is trying his best to do joined up writing too. He actually finished off writing his cards whilst he waited for his brother in his swimming lesson. I am so so proud that he started to remember how to write from and his name. How I tackled it was for him to write “To” and “From …..” in all of his Christmas cards, and then in another setting he added in all the names and wrote on the envelopes.

How do you tackle Christmas Cards? Do you avoid them? Start early? Leave it to the last minute?

Ethans Escapades
3 Children and It

 

Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker

Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker

Christmas is a confusing time for our Sensory Seeker. All that change of routine, different stimulus, and really the lack of understanding of time. Every morning waking up wondering if it is Christmas, or if it is Christmas tomorrow? Trying to stay awake, and being absolutely over-exhausted. Our Sensory Seeker already has  eyes that are so black. You can see my previous post on Coping with Christmas when your child has Special Needs, but one of the ways is to keep busy, keep it structured, and make sure they get a sensory diet. With this in mind I give you ideas to keep your Sensory Seeker (or avoider) entertained over the Christmas period that will help them remain grounded, focused whilst aiding their development.

Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker from last weeks Weekly Kids Co-op

Candy Cane Play Gel Winter Sensory Fun – The Science Kiddo Christmas Crafts for the Sensory Seeker

Easy Snowman Craft for Kids – Spark & Pook

Glittery Christmas Tree Collages – Where Imagination Grows

Christmas Reindeer Printable Activities – Enchanted Home Schooling Mom

Frozen Sleigh - Keeper of the Cheerios

Snow Dough Snowmen –  Multicrafting Mummy

Build a Snowman Busy Bag Activity – Sunny Day Family

Dipped Pine Cone Ornaments Christmas Craft – Christianity Cove

Clotherspin Manger Nativity Scene Christmas Craft – Christianity Cove

Clay Nativity Ornaments –  Crafty Moms Share

Sensory Play: How to make pretend snow in 2 easy steps - Pinch of Perfect

Christmas Sensory Bin – My Bright Firefly

How to make Olaf from a sock – Playtivities

Christmas Tree craft for Toddlers – Playtivities

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

Sensory Soap: Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap RangeDo you have trouble when it comes to keeping your child with Sensory Processing Disorder clean? This may be because they are sensory avoiders and do not like touch, or they may be sensory seekers and always touching things (for more information see my previous post on Sensory Processing Disorder: The Tactile Sense). Either way Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap might just be the answer you have been looking for.

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap Range

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap RangeThey have a range of bath paints, bubble baths (colour changing/glitter), goo, bath crayons, soaps (that you can mould to make shapes out of!), body paints (let that Sensory seeker go wild whilst actually getting clean!).

With smells to tingle the senses and fun characters to really appeal to their visual nature – what’s not to love?

And of course it is all soap in one form or another so it is getting them clean at the same time. But the real beauty of it is that it is cleaning itself up!

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap Range

I think they’d make an ideal present for their stockings, or to help fulfill the additional sensory needs triggered by the festive season. They also have little characters on the tops of the bottles for an additional tactile feel – and they are designed to be played with in the water.

I also liked how this developed my Sensory Seeker’s hands as he played with the products – from undoing bottles, to developing his pouring technique (hand-eye co-ordination, estimation of how fast the liquid would pour out, tilting his hand back0; then squeezing on the flannels and sponges, to helping his fine motor development with the crayons.

Sensory Soap: Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap

Sensory Soap

Of course soap products are not just suitable for those with Sensory Processing disorder, and are just as much fun for all children, covering such a huge variety of ages.

 

This can really help other children (friends and family perhaps) get a better understanding of say a sensory seeker – as they join in the fun of covering themselves in soap.

I was invited to Hamley’s in London with my youngest 3 children (including my Sensory Seeker) to have a messy play date with Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap and see their new designs.

Sensory Soap

I thought that it was great to see the products being demonstrated without the bath – as this is just perfect for me  as he often wants to touch things (or again if you have a sensory avoider who does not like the bath, this could be a small step in).

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap RangeThis was achieved by giving the children aprons and goggles for protection. Then there were a number of stations set up – with bowls, flannels, water, the products, and others had white boards to draw on, special bath colouring in books and crayons, flannels, sponges – and all manner of sensory experiences.

Sensory Soap: Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap

I could see this as a great idea for a Sensory soap party.

Kids Stuff ® Crazy Soap  are offering one lucky reader: Monkey Mitt set, foaming bath fizzes and 4 individual products. Enter using the rafflecopter below. UK only.

E: 10/12/2014 0:00 AM

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our travel expenses were paid to attend the event at Hamley’s but I was under no obligation to write this post. I think they are an absolutely marvelous product and they really helped my Sensory Seeker as he was struggling with all the changes (it was Half Term Holidays). I thoroughly recommend them to other parents – both those who are and aren’t having difficulties with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)

Touch – Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)Touch is the area that sent off the biggest alarm bells for us that our son had Sensory Processing Disorder. I say us it was the Pediatrician who first noticed it, as we struggled to peel him from stroking her shiny tights. We had completely missed the fact that he loved to cover himself in paint, and stroke people’s faces – we just thought that it was his age.

Sensory Processing Disorder is when the information we constantly received by the seven senses is misinterpreted by the brain when it is processed. Sometimes our brains say there is TOO MUCH information coming in, and sometimes NOT ENOUGH. One of the areas this happens in is that of the Tactile sense – or touch.

Does your Child have Sensory Processing Disorder problems in the Tactile Sense (Touch)?

They may have problems with too much, too little or a mix of the two.

Signs of Too Much

Avoiding Touch

• Going barefoot, especially in sand or on grass, wearing sunscreen, hats, messy play with hands & feet (sand, mud, finger-paint). We often find a compromise of letting him wear sandals (no socks) even in Winter helps. Look out for any tags or labels on clothing/ hats that might bother them. Consider types of fabrics most preferred by the child. Use natural fibres e.g. cotton. Wash clothing before wear. Seam-less socks & underwear brands: online www.sensorydirect.com; or http://www.fledglings.org.uk sensorysmart.co.uk

They become distressed during hair-brushing or cutting (our son was actually physically sick when he felt the hair fall and touch his skin. He is getting better but it is usually a case of one parent restraining him whilst the other just gets on with it (shaving in the case of hair). Allow the child as much control & independence as possible (e.g. control force & duration of own tooth-brush). Give warning prior to a disliked activity & talk them through it. Let them know how long until activity is finished (e.g. brush hair for the length of a favourite song/ use a timer set for 1 minute). Touch FIRMLY but gently. Light touch= startling. FIRM touch= calming. Always approach from the front. Warn them before you touch them. Use mirrors (e.g. hair-brushing, cutting, nail cutting, teeth brushing) so the child can see what is happening & increase control. The brushing technique helps with personal grooming. Avoid fans or vents blowing directly on child.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)They use finger-tips instead of their whole hand. Give opportunities to play but without their hands e.g. touch play-dough/ paint with a brush/ spoon etc. before fingers. Slowly build them up – ie just started with finger-tips, then fingers, and reward them for trying it. Even let them play with their food.

They complain of being poked or bumped (this was common for both my oldest and youngest not understanding how much pressure people had used when touching them).  They over-react to touch – e.g. lashes out. They avoid standing in line or close to others. They walk on their toes. They prefer to be in a protected place e.g. in a corner/ under a table. Pair them with a child that won’t prod or poke them. Have designated spots on the mat (e.g. carpet squares).Get the child to be the line starter/ ender/ hold the door.

Not Enough – The Sensory Seeker

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense) They touch people & objects to the point of irritating them (our Sensory Seeker is forever holding people’s faces in his hands).

• They like people to touch him/ her (fantastic for cuddles).

• They are constantly touching other people’s hair or clothing (or just general touching – good idea to carry wipes. Do you have any idea how dirty the Tube is in London Underground but he HAD to touch it, then he didn’t want the black all over his hands and tried to rub it off on a stranger!!!!)

• They love to be barefoot (barefoot trails are just heaven).

• They pinch, bites, or hurts self (and/or others).

• They have a really high pain & temperature threshold.

• They hit or bang their head on purpose.

• They throw themselves on the ground.

• They enjoy rough play.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)How to Help

• Allow them to fiddle with something that is appropriate & doesn’t distract others e.g. a pasta necklace/ bracelet; elastic necklace/ something with resistance. We have tags at the end of his weighted blanket. Allow a fidget toy in their pocket during seated time (e.g. car rides, mat time). *May need a social story to teach rules of use. Provide a squeeze/ stress ball for times that may be difficult.

• Be specific with words- “if you want to touch something- you touch …. Bracelet/ squeeze ball etc. so they have an alternative to their behaviour.

• Select highly textured clothing & lots of accessories e.g. head-bands, wrist-bands, belts.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)Provide textured blankets or sheets for sleeping. We have surrounded him with teddies in his bed to aid night times as he was waking a lot and kept getting in or bed. But there he would really annoy us. There’s no other way to describe it – tickling, even scratching and kicking us – just really needing to get some sort of sensory touch input from us.

• Give opportunities to learn through touch experiences e.g. sand play, water play, messy play, finger-paints. Add textures to toy surfaces e.g. sand in finger-paints.

Touching - Sensory Processing Disorder (Tactile Sense)Products & Resources:

www.sensorytdirect.com

www.fledglings.org.uk

www.sensorywarehouse.com

www.specialneedstoys.co.uk

www.sensorysmart.co.uk

Many thanks to the Children’s Occupational Therapy Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust for supply this information and granting me permission to use it. This post is a redraft of a post previously published on Pinkoddy.