My son has sensory problems

by Elmarie
(South Africa)

My 5 year old son has sensory problems. What kind of exercises does my child needs to do when he is 'sensory defensive'? I want to exercise at home with him.

O.k, some of the symptoms he has are the following:
- cannot sit still
- hates brushing teeth and hair
- hates wearing shoes and socks
- sometimes hates wearing underwear
- struggles to concentrate
- very busy
- talks louder and louder when there's noise around him - also gets more busy when noise is louder
- when I want him to wear a vest under his clothes and it has been washed regularly, now having little wool on, he refuses to wear it
- gets irritated quickly and easily
- hates to struggle
- does not like to search for anything
- starts playing with one thing and when he sees something else, he does not finish the task he started with
- he can play roughly with other children and his dad, but someone mustn't play roughly with him or he cries easily
- struggles to eat breakfast in the morning - but doesn't complain about eating foods like corn etc.
- he walks around now with feelings of negativity that he is no good because his previous school labeled him as naughty - we are really struggling with this part

I took him to a occupational therapist a while back - she confirmed his problem. I just cannot afford the sessions and want to help him at home with exercises.
Can anyone assist me? I can really see he's struggling.

Kind regards

Comments for My son has sensory problems

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Some Tips for Living with Sensory Processing Disorder
by: OT Mom

Hi Elmarie

I sympathize with you, it has been a rough ride so far!

The fact that he dislikes certain tactile experiences (socks & shoes, underwear, brushing teeth and hair, rough play when someone is rough with him) makes me think that he definitely has a sensory processing disorder of some sort. It will really help if you can find an Occupational Therapist in your area who can at least show you a brushing program that you can do with him at home. Unfortunately it is not the kind of thing that I can describe to you and then you can do it, you need to have a hands on demonstration. But it really, really helps. It does take a bit of discipline in the beginning, as it initially needs to be done 3 times a day, but you should see the results if you keep up with it.

As your son sounds so similar to mine, I am going to share what helped me in our own life:

I have to remind myself that, because he has a sensory processing disorder, he struggles to "screen out" information which we think is really minor (like the seams on socks, and labels on underpants). So if he gets irritable because he is wearing a scratchy top, I give that top away and let him wear a different one. Maybe you could try a long-sleeved t-shirt instead of a vest? or add layers on top instead of layers underneath? My son loves his fleece waistcoat, which he wears over his t-shirts instead of a vest underneath!

Kids with sensory processing problems who receive a small bump or bruise can scream as though they have been killed, because to them, it is such an assault on their over-sensitive systems. As they get older, they can learn to calm down and not overreact so much, but it does help if you give deep pressure. Deep pressure helps to calm a child who is "overreacting", and helps him to find a "stable base" in himself to go out and face the world again! My son responds well to a firm hug when he has hurt himself (I hug him from behind, and then I can apply pressure all the way down his back and arms as I wrap my arms around him). He also finds jumping on a trampoline calming (the jumping gives him deep pressure input - proprioception- from his own muscles working hard). Rocking on a rocking horse or swinging on a swing can also be calming.

I have also found that it helps to give J a quiet place to go when things get too much (we often have lots of kids and people in our home) - he likes to go and get into bed (warm place) with the curtains closed (dark) and sometimes he listens to music or just lies there until he feels ready to come out and face the world. Of course, we have to get the balance right between expecting him to do his best to interact with a world that requires this interaction, and finding a safe space to recover!

I hope you found this helpful?

Kind regards,
OT Mom

5 yr old Boy with Sensory Processing Disorder
by: Anonymous

Hello my name is Susan. I have a 5 yr old son that also has a sensory disorder. I have found that my son also can not sit still for very long. I have given him a large exercise ball that he can bounce on or sit on. It sometimes helps him to focus to watch a movie. In the past he has also used a pressure vest to give constant sensory input.

We also do a lot of body squeezes. I have been working with my son's sensory issues since he was 2 1/2 yrs old. I do a lot of tactile work like play doh, shaving cream, different textures to try to get him to tolerate more. He is getting better.

I also can not afford the OT sessions. His school gives him some OT but not enough. Good Luck with your OT exercises.

Tactile initiated by the child
by: Anonymous

Hi there my name is Sharon, I am daily whiz zed thru my my hours by two boys who are extreme and differ in their sensory tactile over and under sensitivities. You get your money's worth and make sure you apply for annual leave from your own life for a while cos it seems that nothing is ever important unless you're the one having the meltdown (and our breakdowns certainly don't compare to theirs ). Our reg to teaches us self initiated remedies which are great as I don't have to assess or guess which extreme mr is at at that second.
Hotdog: Lay pillows along the floor in a line against couch or wall or bed and then about 3-4 metres away lay a comfy blanket on floor touching the edge along pillows. Get your little dancer lying on the edge furtherest from pillows and then roll him up in the blanket, of course u r yelling and screaming "hot dog, hot dog, come get your hot dog" and don't get to pretend you're pouring sauce on him, great funif other siblings to join in. Then roll him tightly in the blanket (as tho he is the sausage in the roll) and when he is rolled into the pillows put another pillow on top f him and gently or harshly apply pressure from your body or sibling if appropriate.
This is a lot of fun and doesn't leave anyone feeling left out, and then in future if your dear throws a blanket in the air yelling hot dog you know what he wants. Can be awkward if someone in public mentions hotdog for lunch and someone gets their hopes up for a squeeze on the floor tho lol but definitely worth making a habit. Then if at friends house they can teach it as a neuro typical game even if they need some tactile help.
Get a few empty boxes but sturdy ones like used for packing and leave them on their sides. Tactile kids luv climbing in, under and thru objects to get the squeeze - blown up water tyre tubes are handy but just checking the seams on the inside aren't rough. Then et little one fill box with teddies or blanket to make more squished if need be-child can then climb in at own will.
Set up obstacle course at home including jumping, throwing and running. Add but if competition from mum and tada fun for all. If your child has to run and aim his favourite teddy into the empty washing basket at the end of the course at same time, then jump whilst counting (doing two things at once using diff brain parts)this will help him feel productively exhausted. You could also include spinnning on the kitchen chair two times and then clapping three times soon as he stands up ? Being the winner of the race makes it even better. Feeling tired and proud makes them fall asleep smiling which of course leaves us smiling too!

by: Anonymous

Lastly pull on some seamless or low seam socks, long ones onto arms or legs and let them sit for maybe ten seconds then rip them off really quickly, making some goofy noise and pulling silly face. Our kids luv the adult participation and seem to forget they have any additional frills when playing this, they luv it. If child is insistent on keepin sock on then they must be in need of some more input. Looks like hotdogs for lunch then hey ?
Oh and finally the worlds greatest tactile hero or villain depending on the mood, water ! If my 2yr old has a shower after lunch time ain't no one getting sleep that night, he loves showers but just cannot calm down afterwards and is very against any pressure from that point too so the only thing I can do is talk to him and I find telling him that mummy knows something is feeling odd but ill hang round to help always alleviates bit of the anxiety oh and of course coloring in. Which brings in the outdoor hose/sprinkler. For some reason he calms after the sprinkler, maybe there is no echo like in the bathroom which could be putting him over the edge. But I never turn the tap on the sprinkler unless I have time to allow supervised play for a decent amount of time otherwise u are just provoking a meltdown when the water goes off. We always put the sprinkler near the trampoline and they will jump forever! So sprinklers good for physical activity and add in some special jumping sequencing like bum,knees,clap and they end up productively tired again. But for us definetly only baths before bed.
Hope this helps, we are blessed to have children but some days are long days and if we get the chance to truly be with them 100% mind too, maybe they can remind us a few things about life that we've forgotten along the way ! Forget about the dishes for ten minutes and you'd be suprised what u see in your child when u let them guide the play direction and just join in. then watch them loose their need for control for a while.
Authority can be harder than sensory needs for our kids sometimes!

OCD + Sensory
by: Anonymous

Hi all our OT thinks my 3 yo son also has OCD on top of the sensory. Do most of you notice your child obsessing over items? Certain foods? Hard to switch activities ? It is all a bit overwhelming at times for us. We need to have a Development Pediatrician assess him - waiting on Doctors referral. Our son is extremely rigid. In the sense that he will not eat if it is not exactly what and how he wants it. He refuses up try any new food. He is well behind in weight and we worry about him... Does anyone else have Food issues ?

Ear plugging
by: Anonymous

Hi! Can you recommend some activities to reduce or eliminate the ear plugging and shouting of my student. I'm hoping that you could help me.. Thanks and God bless.

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