This parenting gig is never really how we imagined it. Both our older sons have mild Sensory Intergration challenges. There have been only a few days where I'm totally beaten down by our circumstances. Don't get me wrong. Every day is tough but attitude and perspective are huge. Even though I struggle with my kids, I'm choosing to embrace these strong “feel the world around them” qualities. These qualities are part of them and always will be. So, we believe “it” is what makes our sons “great” and that if handled appropriately will result in success and happiness in life.
“The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation.” ~ Ray L. Wilbur
Sensory Integration Tools
Ha! Easier said than done, my friends! The good news is that I have an arsenal of tools from which I pick and choose depending on what a particular day brings us. Below are a few of the tools we use to help our sons.
Take it Outside
No matter what you are doing, take the activity outside. Explore, learn, eat, play, clean, etc. Quite simply, fresh air and nature stirs up goodness in curiosity, wonderment, and movement.
When I learned about the Sensory Diet it immediately made sense to me. There are certain senses our kids seek or avoid. Once we identify those needs, we can cater to his sensory diet. An occupational therapist can help with your diet. In our case, we use our trampoline, yoga, squeezing lemons and oranges, massage, heavy lifting with yard work, climbing, generally lots of proprioceptive input. My oldest son is an oral sensory seeker so we use gum and lots of chewy tubes. I try to get them moving as soon as they get up in the morning. Then I keep my eye on them to be proactive about their needs.
You have to check out my friend Dayna's sensory store: Project Sensory. She has done an amazing job cultivating an array of sensory tools for parents and teachers spanning the various sensory needs of children.
One on One Time
Sometimes all it takes to calm the body is eye contact, eye level, and one on one attention. Listen, get closer, connect with your child.
Plan C for The Explosive Child
I'm referencing Dr. Ross Greene's collaborative problem-solving approach in The Explosive Child. Plan C is when you proactively choose what a child can do. So, for example, if ‘screen time' is an unsolved problem, but not a priority compared to other unsolved problems then you might place ‘screen time' in Plan C. When your child has screen time but asks for it in the morning rather than the afternoon when you typically allow it, or wants to use the iPad for longer than typical limits, you left him. This action is not giving in because you proactively decided ahead of time, before an explosion occurred, rather than sinking in the real-time moment. The idea is to minimize stress and meltdowns so you can work on unsolved problems. Once a problem is solved you move onto the next problem, which may or may not be screen time.
You have read recently about my family's journey with oils. Not only have I felt remarkably better personally in terms of energy levels and focus especially, but we've also seen positive impacts with our sons. Read more about our essential oils journey. Plus there are all sorts of fun activities for kids using essential oils.
We recently discovered Qigong Massage. Many parents and professionals are using this Chinese energy massage to help children with sensory issues. My sons began last week. The massage contains 12 movements and takes about 15 minutes to do on your child. I highly recommend this book on Qigong Massage for Children. It comes with a DVD and is very well written. My sons enjoy the massage (but were a bit reluctant at first). They ask for the massage at the end of the day. I feel positive about what the impact will bring their bodies.
Do you have sensory integreation tools you like to use?