Sensory Processing Issues – Second Avenue in Exploring A Highly Sensitive or Challenging Child
Sensory processing is the process by which our brain and body takes in information and makes sense of or reacts to that information. A sensory system may have challenges in receiving or processing that information, causing a child to be sensory avoidant, sensory seeking, or actually vary between the two. As you might imagine, this can create both hypo and hypersensitivity in the way a child deals with sensory input and create challenges in their processing of sensory information their body receives.
If you’ve spent hours trying to explain concerning things to your child, preparing your worried child, or calming and reassuring your child, but something still feels off – like you’re not getting through to them or making progress , this could possibly be the piece that’s missing.
Without this, you can offer all the reassurance and great explanations to pave the way, keep your child from getting worked up, and still not make any progress in the areas that seem to cause them upset or emotion, and the two of you continue to battle and struggle to relate.
Learn About Sensory Processing
What can you do? Learn about sensory needs and difficulties.
Useful Tool To Understand the Highly Sensitive Child
A really useful tool for understanding your highly sensitive child is to take time to explore sensory issues– educate yourself on the sensory systems, how they are intended to work, and identify the systems that might be creating problems with your child.
I encourage you to think through those things that your child tends to be hypersensitive to. It may be sounds, sights, textures, tastes, movement, or a variety of other things. In fact, you may have never even realized that there are eight sensory systems that impact your child. (That’s more than what we learned about in elementary science!) The sensory red flag list might be worth exploring.
Believe it or not, many of the behaviors that parents and teachers contribute to defiance, obstinance, refusal, excessive energy, or avoidance may actually be tied to something that relates to the way a child is experiencing things through their senses and possibly even trouble in using that information like a neurotypical brain might. So don’t assume your child’s challenging behavior is necessarily behavioral problems, it just might be something you need to explore through sensory processing. Their sensory overload or overwhelm may contribute to the intense emotion or challenging behaviors that serve as their alarm.
Sensory Processing Resources
We talk about sensory issues more in the Calm Connection Program, and one resource I like to connect clients with is the book Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals (also on Amazon). Another great program is Rise With Sensory or Your Kids Table with Alisha Grogan. She is an occupational therapist that does periodic workshops specific to this topic and has a course dedicated solely to these issues. I personally have used her resources and learned so much from the ideas and insights she shares there.
Lemon Lime Adventures with Dayna Abraham is where I first learned about what sensory processing even was! Even as a mom of seven, I had never known. She has a book titled Sensory Processing 101 that beautifully explains the sensory systems and then talks about each of them through the eyes of a parent as well as an occupational therapist. If the whole topic is new for you, be sure to check it out! She also offers a program that helps out-of-the-box parents with their sensory-sensitive, out-of-the-box child. If Calm Connection doesn’t feel like a great fit with our faith-based aspect in coaching, her program may be a fit for you.
Exploring sensory issues can give you great insight into the help your child might need to manage their environment, sensory input, or needs. Knowing these specific details can help you brainstorm solutions to things that your child may not even be able to articulate without your understanding of how their body is interpreting the messages it receives (sensory input).