November 7, 2014

epic-news-sensory-integration-regulating-supporting-senses-1Supporting the senses of the deregulated child can have a big impact on a family’s enjoyment of the holiday season.

Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.

Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration”.

Here are some tips to help you connect with your child this holiday season.

Seeing

  • Use indirect and dim lighting when your child is waking, dressing and grooming to help decrease his or her adrenaline.
  • Limit your child’s time in front of the TV, computer and portable devices as much as possible.
  • Tell your child a story before bedtime rather than looking at picture books. Picture books tend to be over-stimulating to a child. This can impact settling for bed, as well as quality of sleep.
  • Remove clutter from bookshelves, dressers and put away toys. Reducing visual stimulus will make the bedroom more welcoming to sleep.

Hearing

  • Play low frequency, instrumental music in the background to assist with your child’s emotional control and to improve his or her attention and focus.
  • Avoid ambient noise from the TV and listen to instrumental or Christmas music in the background, instead.
  • Speak in a low tone when talking to your child.

Touching

  • To wake your child, use firm but rhythmic tapping on his or her body. Pretend snowflakes are falling and melting on them or reindeer hooves dancing on them.
  • Begin the day with firm, big hugs to stimulate dopamine release in your child. This will improve your child’s integration of auditory information and assist with attention while you are speaking.
  • Ensure your child uses tight, long underwear and undershirts under his or her clothing to keep warm and to assist with keeping him or her calm.
  • Use of a heavyweight comforter to assist your child with settling for bed and staying asleep.

Tasting

  • Avoid feeding your child foods that are hard to digest, such as acidic foods, complex carbohydrates, gluten and cow’s milk products.
  • Monitor your child’s sugar intake.
  • Use spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon to flavor your child’s food.

Smelling

  • Use spices such as cinnamon and mulling to calm your child. Scents have a strong impact on emotions and can help with your child’s working memory.
  • Use lavender scents at bedtime to help stimulate your child to sleep. Sprinkle a little in bathwater or on the child’s pillow.

Vestibular (system that detects movement and helps control your balance)

  • Provide opportunities for your child to swing and bounce to decrease adrenaline.

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