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Navigating Sensory Challenges at Home: Helpful Hints for Parents

In the comfort of home, children should feel safe, secure, and able to explore their surroundings freely. However, for some children, sensory challenges can turn this haven into a source of stress and discomfort. Whether it's hypersensitivity to noise, textures, or lights, navigating sensory issues at home requires patience, understanding, and a few strategies up your sleeve. In this blog post, we'll explore common sensory challenges at home and provide practical tips for parents to create a supportive environment for their child.

Understanding Sensory Challenges:

Sensory challenges can manifest in various ways, impacting how children perceive and interact with their environment. Some children may be oversensitive (hypersensitive) to sensory stimuli, while others may seek out sensory input (hyposensitive). Understanding your child's unique sensory profile is key to providing effective support at home. An OT can support with identifying what sensory preferences your child may have.

Common Sensory Challenges:

  1. Noise Sensitivity: Children with auditory sensitivities may struggle with loud noises such as vacuum cleaners, blenders, hair dryers or even the sound of footsteps.

  2. Texture Sensitivity: Certain textures, such as scratchy fabrics or slimy substances, can be distressing for children with tactile sensitivities.

  3. Light Sensitivity: Bright lights, particularly fluorescent or flickering lights, can cause discomfort for some children.

  4. Overstimulation: A cluttered or chaotic environment may overwhelm children with sensory processing issues, leading to meltdowns or shutdowns.

Tips for Parents:

  1. Create a Sensory-Friendly Environment: Minimise sensory triggers by using soft lighting, organising spaces, and providing comfortable seating options.

  2. Establish Routines: Predictability can help children feel more secure. Establishing consistent routines for meals, bedtime, and activities can reduce anxiety.

  3. Offer Sensory Tools: Provide sensory tools such as noise-canceling headphones, *weighted blankets, or fidget toys to help regulate your child's sensory input

  4. Encourage Breaks: Recognise signs of sensory overload and encourage your child to take breaks in a quiet, calming space when needed.

  5. Communicate Openly: Encourage open communication with your child about their sensory experiences and validate their feelings without judgement.

Navigating sensory challenges at home can be a journey filled with ups and downs, but with guidance, understanding, and strategies to try, parents can start to create a supportive environment where their child can thrive. By implementing sensory-friendly practices and building connection, parents can help their children manage their sensory needs and embrace the comfort and safety of home.

If you have concerns regarding your child's sensory needs occupational therapists are well equipped to support you and your child to identify their needs and provide specific strategies to try based on your child's sensory preferences such as a sensory diet.

*Please chat to an occupational therapist for more information with weight products as there are safety guidelines regarding use of weighted products.

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