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April 29, 2013 / Living Life Our Way

Understanding and Supporting Sensitive Children

Firstly, it is really important to understand that for some individuals their senses and emotions are turned up high. So noise *is* that loud, the hurt that painful, the incident that serious, the smell so strong, the clothes so uncomfortable, the lights so bright, the taste so horrid or the texture so awful. Their perception of the world is more intense than others. Sensitive children are often sensitive all-round; to food, to environment, sensory processing difficulties, emotions etc… Those around can support by responding patiently and by understanding they are not simply being ‘drama queens’ or ‘attention seeking’. Support the child with learning how to communicate how they feel calmly and how to relax because their feelings and experiences *are* very intense. Sometimes it is also possible to demonstrate how to put things in perspective using clear analogies.

To be proactive in avoiding over-stimulation in the first place, aside from being mindful of their environment generally, perhaps try noise cancelling headphones or ear defenders, sunglasses, calming smells or something comforting to hold. Make a quiet chill-out space available if possible and ensure they can access it freely. Also teach strategies that help to effectively deal with stress, such as simple meditation techniques or even basic CBT self-help skills, because then they will have more tools to help themselves.

Raising Your Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel/ Nancy Peske and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowitz are also helpful for getting ideas on how to do Occupational Therapy (OT) type activities at home. Having these available means the opportunity to self- regulate is there. Some parents might choose to suggest these activities at certain times of day or alternatively just explain what the purpose of them is and leave it at that/ just strew them around the house so they look inviting and are accessible at all times.

In addition to the books already named, further recommendations are Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron.

Useful websites:
http://sensorysmarts.com/
http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm
http://www.parentchildhelp.com/

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