I’ve done several interviews on the subject of Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, and what it’s like to raise a child living with it.
Like most other people, these kids have good days and bad days all depending on their stimuli, amount of proper sensory input that feeds their bodies (called a Sensory Diet) as well the amount of time they’ve had to calm down after overstimulating situations.
One of the top questions I am asked is what tips I have for other parents and caregivers raising a child with SPD. What I always say is that I am certainly no expert in the field, I only know what I’ve learned from the top researchers and therapists out there, as well as my own experiences. But the following is a compilation of the top ten tips I usually offer.
I hope some of these help other parents out there not always knowing where to turn when things get rough. Just hang in there, take a deep breath and be there in any way you can.
Ten Tips for Parents of Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
(1) Empower yourself with knowledge: About SPD in general, about your child’s form of SPD specifically, about treatment options and about support.
(2) Learn about—and teach others about—all seven (tactile, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, visual, vestibular and proprioception) sensory systems.
(3) Connect with support networks, such as The SPD Foundation, Sensory Street or SPD Canada.
(4) Allow yourself to feel the range of emotions you’ll experience raising a child with sensory needs. It can be difficult at times and it’s okay to feel…just like we’re teaching our kiddos!
(5) Advocating means more than describing what’s wrong with our child. It also means seeing the whole child and helping others to see all of his qualities.
(6) Remember that your child needs to experience sensory stimuli in order to teach his brain how to understand and process it.
(7) Teach your child how to interact with his world through play, fun games, crafts and activities. Focusing on fun makes it less ‘therapeutic’ and, therefore, less ‘scary’.
(8) Advocate for your child today so she can advocate for herself tomorrow. Answer questions, give explanations and offer information in a positive way so she’ll feel confident to do it on her own.
(9) SPD is only a small part of who your child is. Help him to accept that part, but also to see the other amazing things inside of him.
(10) The journey of raising a child with SPD can be a long one, with many hurdles to overcome. Be patient, stay strong, trust your heart and, most importantly, listen to your gut. If you know something is wrong, keep moving forward until someone listens.