Tips To Help Your Child Seeking Sensory Input

Tips To Help Your Child Seeking Sensory Input

It’s the kid who can’t sit still in the classroom. The one constantly distracted during the lesson. The child who gets so caught up in what they’re doing, they can’t transition to the next activity. Or the kid who melts down seemingly out of nowhere, when things just become too much.

But what happens when that kid is your kid?

Many children on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing sensory information. Some attempt to avoid sensory input, while others seek sensory input. If your child displays characteristics of the latter, the above likely sounds incredibly familiar to you.

Gersh Academy was founded based on Kevin Gersh’s life-changing experience meeting one of these students. At Gersh Academy, we love witnessing the thrill our students experience from a simple nature walk, yet we also understand the day-to-day challenges. That’s why this month we wanted to share some tips that can help your child learn to channel some of that energy and stay regulated as much as possible.

The Why Behind Sensory Seeking Behaviors

When a child requires more sensory input than a typical peer, that means they underreact to sensory input in general. They also struggle with awareness of their body in a space and sometimes show poor coordination and balance. 

To acquire the additional sensory input they need, you will see them spinning and twirling, bouncing, crashing, or jumping. They feel a consistent need to touch objects and people around them and find themselves unable to sit still for very long

Tips for the Home 

At home, sensory seeking behavior can often lead to struggles and overwhelm. For that reason, being proactive about sensory input can help keep the peace. Your goal is to meet their sensory needs before they seek out other unwanted behaviors in order to do so.

Equipping your home with tools to meet those needs can be extremely helpful. A swing that suspends from the ceiling, a trampoline, or even a thick pad or pillows the child can jump into can feed sensory input. 

Smaller objects held in a calm down corner, like stress balls to squeeze and stretchy bands to pull, can be a simple way to add some movement into your space. Even wearing a weighted blanket as your child reads or watches TV can add some of that deep pressure they crave.

If you are unable to add tools into your home, think about daily ways to incorporate high levels of sensory input. Enrolling in a regular gymnastics class has been known to help some children channel their energy. Simply providing crunchy snacks like carrots and a straw to drink out of can help their mouth muscles get to work

Tips for the Classroom

For many of our students who crave sensory input, additional tools and accommodations in the classroom can help them be successful. The following ideas have been effective with these students:

  • flexible seating in the classroom 
  • movement breaks built into lessons
  • quiet fidget toys
  • a stretchy band under the desk to rest their feet
  • a seat away from the air conditioning or other distracting noises
  • a chew necklace to wear in class

Don’t hesitate to request that your child receives accommodations to meet their sensory needs, and feel free to ask your child’s teacher if they have any suggestions. In addition, if your child has an individualized education plan (IEP), bring up the concerns at your child’s meeting to have these accommodations in writing.

Where to Turn for Help

Working with an occupational therapist (OT) can be very beneficial for a child struggling with sensory seeking behaviors. OTs are able to provide children specific physical activities to help them learn to regulate the sensory input their body receives.

In addition, work with your child’s teachers. Look for patterns of dysregulation and potential triggers. Then, use trial and error for potential solutions.

At Gersh Academy, we pride ourselves in the individualized education each student receives, along with in-school therapy to help meet all of their needs. While attending our school, students seeking sensory input work with knowledgeable OTs and understanding teachers who work together to guide them to reach their potential. If you have a child who would benefit from our one-of-a-kind program, reach out here

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