We at Milestone Consulting help families come up with strategies that provide lifelong financial support for children with disabilities and special education needs. Through our practice and our Facebook group, Parents Caring for Special Needs Kids (PCSNK), we have had many conversations with parents who are dedicated to helping their disabled loved ones live their best lives. For many, a big hurdle is their children’s sensory sensitivity both at home and elsewhere. On PCSNK, parents often share the sensory-related challenges they face daily as well as tips for fun and safe ways to help their children overcome atypical reactions to stimuli.
Recognizing the benefit of appropriate sensory experiences, the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder offers ideas for incorporating sensory input into daily activities. They recommend parents consider some of the following:
- At bath time, use a variety of washcloths, bath brushes, soaps, powders and lotions.
- When preparing meals or baking, let your child mix ingredients, roll dough, and carry items to help out.
- At the grocery store, have your child push the cart or help carry heavy groceries and put them away.
- During mealtime, encourage your child to try chewy foods and drink out of a straw.
- When doing household chores, allow the child to help with tasks like vacuuming, moving the furniture, or carrying the laundry basket.
For kids with sensory difficulties, playtime is an excellent time to exercise sensory input. The STAR Institute recommends trying some of these activities:
- Incorporating a rocking chair or bean-bag chair for added movement
- Making obstacle courses in the house or yard
- Listening to soft music
- Pulling a wagon or doll carriage during a walk to the park
- Bouncing (safely) on a trampolines
- Playing in sandboxes or big containers of beans or popcorn kernels
In an article on the Family Lives website, a parent suggested a list of fun activities for children with special needs, most of which involve stimulating the senses. These tips include making a texture book, taking a “smell tour” of new places, and using a foil emergency blanket as a play mat.
Of course, not all of these activities will be right for every child, and only the individual parent will know which ones are appropriate and will work best. But thinking outside the box can result in fun activities that may also help a child work through some of his or her sensory challenges.
About John Bair
John Bair is an experienced settlement planner and financial consultant. He helps families develop strategies to provide lifelong financial support for children with disabilities, catastrophic injuries, special education needs, and congenital abnormalities. Read more about John’s work and his firm, Milestone Consulting, at http://milestoneseventh.com/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).