Sensory Processing Disorder: The struggle is real!

Do you have a bright child who can’t seem to focus when asked to perform a sequence of tasks?  Does your son or daughter jump from activity to activity?  Do you know a child that NEEDS to climb, run, and touch everything?  These are all examples of children displaying sensory processing disorder (SPD).  A  lot of kids with ADHD and autism, also have sensory processing issues that affect their organization and focus.  You know your child is smart, if only she would just calm down for a minute!  Sound familiar?


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Carol Stock Kranowitz, author of The Out of Sync Child recommends the “3Rs”:

  • Recognize that your child may have a sensory issue.  Kranowitz suggests putting on “sensory goggles” to observe what your child needs more or less.  Noise may cause your child to have outbursts.  A quick run around the block, may be what your child’s body is seeking to organize his thoughts again.
  • Re-channel the behavior.  Avoid punishing your child for his extra energy.  Find a way for him to use that energy purposefully.  Take younger kids to the playground or have them jump on the trampoline.  As children get older, assigning chores around the house (think raking leaves or vacuuming) are a great way to teach responsibility and have them expend excess energy.
  • Reward the child with specific and positive words.  Rather than a treat and a “Good job!”, try saying “Wow, you read that passage very well!”  Avoid sugary and material awards.  Praise from a parent is usually the biggest reward for a child.

Therapists will often recommend a sensory diet to help “sync’ the brain and body.  Here are some activities recommended by Kranowitz, plus a few more!

  1. Reach for the sky – While laying on her back, have your child stretch one are to the sky while you both count to five.  Hold it high while counting to five.  Then tell your child to pretend she is melting, and slowly bring her arm down for five counts.  Do the same with the other arm.  Repeat this exercise alternating between right and left arm and then right and left leg.  This slow and calming activity encourages patience and improves coordination. (Kranowitz)
  2. Copy Cat – Face your child and say, “Watch and copy what I do.”  Do different movements that require balance and coordination and let your child copy you.  For example, you can balance on one foot and wiggle the other foot in the air.  You can even take turns being the leader!
  3. Copy Can’t – In this variation, have your child do the OPPOSITE.  When you reach high with your hands, your child will have to reach low.  This is a great activity for building body awareness, visual processing, and motor planning.  (Kranowitz)
  4. Make your house sensory sensitive. – Be sure to have designated quiet areas.  A quiet area can be as simple as a corner with a bean bag chair or weighted blanket.  Providing a small trampoline or exercise ball in your child’s room or playroom are simple activities for releasing energy.  Your child should also have a designated area for homework.  His desk or table should be clear of all distractions to help him focus on his work.
  5. Encourage outdoor play and exercise.– Exercise is important for everyone.  However, for individuals with SPD, physical activity helps with processing, focus, and self-regulation.  Biking, running, and other sports help children use excess energy, increase body awareness, and improve focus.

No matter how mild or severe your child’s SPD is, remember that many of their behaviors have an underlying cause.  Refrain from over the top reactions such as, “Why do you always do that?”  Instead, put on your investigator’s hat, and try to figure out what caused the behavior.  Once you have the cause, find an activity or a sensory tool to help your child become more aware of his own body and regulate his own sensory issues.

Brainjogging helps with SPD by helping to syncing the auditory, visual, and language pathways in the brain.  A child who is better able to understand the world around him will feel more in control and will be able to remain calm in different situations.  Combine Brainjogging with a sensory diet and you’ll have a calm, melt-down free child in no time at all!


Kranowitz, Carol, “When Your Child is Out-of-Sync”  ADDitude Magazine, Winter 2016.

Arky, Beth, “Treating Sensory Processing Issues”

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