Ah sensory integration issues. This is something Michael has struggled with since birth, and still struggles with today. I don’t know if it is the heat, the beginning of the school year, or something else, but Michael always has lots of issues with sensory issues at the beginning of each season. This year is no different. I am seeing a lot more OCD stims coming out with checking things, going over things in a certain way, and having a hard time stopping himself from moving and getting to the next step. Sequencing has always been challenging, but never more than when his sensory system is off. This morning we had a fight as he could not get moving to do his morning routine fast enough. When he did finally move, he was fast, but not before we’d had words. He is too old now to want to do a visual schedule or write out a schedule with words by hand or on the computer. So what did I finally suggest to avoid having another stressful morning? A verbal agreement on how the morning would proceed with times set, as well as a small reward if he finished early- a chance to play some video games on his new Nintendo DS that he earned for good behavior and self-control.
This process of discussing things with Michael has come about after many times of fine tuning my own emotional system and learning what does not work to help him redirect himself and me redirect myself. Here are the 5 ways I have learned to stay calm and show Michael what he can do to redirect himself towards a more successful path:
- Breathe: Always breathe before you say or do anything. That pause usually helps us make a more positive choice.
- Have a Centering Strategy In Place- Mantra, Walk, Close Eyes, Or Place That Calms: Next I have always tried to picture a positive centering place where I can find my equilibrium and have encouraged Michael to do the same- taking a short walk around house, rocking, thinking of a positive mantra etc.
- Don’t Take Other Person Seriously: This is hard to do, but I have learned not to take what Michael says personally when he is upset and have taught him to do the same. When we are angry, we sometimes forget to breathe and think before speaking. This is mandatory or we end up saying things we don’t mean.
- Worst Case Scenario: What is the worst thing that can happen? Thinking this usually puts a problem, even a big one, into perspective. We see it is not so bad, and we come up with better solutions.
- Apologize After Argument And Learn From It: This is both the easiest and hardest thing to do. We need to admit what we did wrong with our child’s behavior plan, and learn from it. We also need to hold ourselves accountable for our behavior as we hold our children responsible for theirs. This is how we will all grow stronger.
Exceptional Parents, how do you help your child handle sensory sensitivities, especially when there is a time constraint? It’s not easy for sure, but as long as we remember to stop, pause and then respond, we will be making decisions based on seeing what it is our Exceptional Child needs most. With sensory integration, it is usually compassion, a structured plan, and an understanding of when the child is in and out of control. In time, as a parent, you will find your child’s rhythym and be able to help them learn to manage their emotions better. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.