What do you do when both of your children have sensory processing difficulties and need a sensory diet implemented each day? Both of my sons have Sensory Processing Disorder. Both need a sensory diet each day, or, a prescribed set of activities to stimulate (or calm) their sensory systems.
This has been difficult to do because their needs are very different. While my first son needs a lot of input into his body to stay calm (sensory seeker) my younger son needs a lot of input into his body to wake it up (sensory avoider). I struggle to find activities they can do together since their needs differ and their age difference makes it tricky. This has been especially difficult this winter being cooped up in the house!
I find that if I do the sensory activities in the morning, they tend to be calmer, happier, and more focused throughout the day. So, how do we fit this in? Here’s what I’ve been doing recently.
I used to let my kids watch a short TV show or two after breakfast so I could get a shower and plan their sensory activities. I realized that wasn’t working for us because they would never want to switch from TV to “therapy time” as I call it. Who would, right? I also found that trying to do therapy time first with both boys wasn’t working either! I wasn’t able to get dressed and ready for the day. Either way I felt like we would end up struggling through the morning and not accomplishing anything! So, I decided to make TV work for us! Just FYI, what follows might seem completely obvious you and I apologize if it seems overly simplistic. With that, here’s what we do . . .
I let them each pick a show to watch at different times. While one is watching their 30 minute show, I do therapy time with the other. Then we switch. My youngest, Little Man, is a lot more flexible so he usually gets to watch his show first while I work with big brother, LIttle Dude. He is more willing to transition from TV to therapy and then back again. Then when that show ends, I switch and work with Little Man.
When they are both finished with therapy time, I let them relax with a final short TV choice together, usually a nature video. This allows me to quick grab a shower and plan the rest of the day’s activities. While I don’t love the idea of my kids watching an hour of TV in the morning, I feel it is working for our schedule. The boys both get one-on-one time and focused attention from me and it gives me the structure to meet their sensory needs each day.
This is also the only TV I let them watch all day. In the evening I try to encourage them to build things together with blocks or legos but may allow them some computer or iPad time if they are playing educational games. Our favorite games or apps work on executive functioning, social skills, fine motor skills, or academic skills.
I have found that the therapy time we put in at home is so important and I have been realizing lately how much my children benefit from that time set aside to work one on one with them. We aren’t able to do this every day. But I make it a priority to give my boys those sensory activities in a structured way at least three to four times a week. I do the best I can for them and leave the results in God’s hands. I trust Him to take what I can give and multiply the effects in my children’s lives.
I realize this post is practical information but it gives you a glimpse into our lives! I am hoping once the weather warms up a little we can plan for more activity outside so we can ditch TV altogether!
I’d love to hear how any of you make it work for your families!