Is your child constantly having behavior issues? You have tried various behavior management techniques but it does not help with your child’s behavior. You may want to investigate if it is a sensory issue instead of behavior issue.
If your child has sensory issues, it affects their daily body functions. Your child may be lacking or overly stimulated, thus resulting in them either seeking more sensory input or running away from tasks that overly stimulate them – which can be seen in their behavior.
A sensory diet is a list of activities that can help your child to feel calm and balance and therefore enabling them to complete tasks, learn and be in their best behavior.
Does your child need a sensory diet?
If your child is
- overly active to the extent of not able to complete a task
- often tired and day dream all the time
- having difficulty in controlling their impulses
- having difficulty sleeping
your child may need a sensory diet.
An occupational therapist will be able to support you in developing a sensory diet for your child. They will be able to look at the needs of your child and customize a diet that varies in frequency, intensity, timing and activities depending on your child.
A sensory diet may consist of physical activities that uses the large core muscles, tactile which focuses on touch, visual to improve visual attention and information retention, oral for managing oral sensation or auditory to improve on processing of auditory information.
What else can you do?
Sensory diet works best for children under the age of 7. You can make use of the checklist developed by CDC (up to 5 years old) (read more here) or if you prefer an in-depth checklist (up to 7 years old) by Kid Sense – Sensory Processing Development Checklist.
Sensory involves vestibular, proprioception, touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. Explore various activities for your child – from climbing, swinging, taking a car ride and bouncing to chewing gum and listening to music to promote your child’s sensory development. Notice if there is any particular activity that your child is avoiding or constantly seeking.
Observe and make note on time of the day or occasions where your child experience challenges or seemed to exhibit undesirable behavior. Here is a list of possible challenges
- Avoiding certain movements such as riding a swing
- Refuse climbing activities at playground
- Refusing at seeing, tasting or smelling certain food (take note of the food and texture)
- Frequent walking on toes
- Overly clumsy – falling or bumping into objects
- Avoid going to parties or crowded places or bright places (note place, sound level, lights, surroundings)
- Prefers only certain type of clothes
- Couldn’t sit still – constantly touching items, moving from one place to another, jumping and climbing all over
- Attracted to bright lights or fast-moving objects or shows
- Biting for no apparent reason
- Refusing to brush teeth
- Tantrums or behaviors occurring certain time of the day or day of the week
Take baby steps to address your child’s challenges. If your child is afraid of climbing, encourage him to take one step. Or be there with him or hold his hands while climbing. Or if your child is resistant to certain food. Present the food in different manner – as is, fried, baked, mashed to identify if it is temperature, texture or smell that he is sensitive to. Give him time and space to achieve the first step. Pay attention if your child is responding to your strategy. If there is no improvement, we would recommend speaking to Occupational Therapist for an assessment and guidance activities to support your child.
Meeting with Occupational Therapist
An occupational therapist will be able to conduct an assessment to determine the areas where your child may need support. Your notes on your observation will be able to provide insights into your child’s sensory development. Do share with the occupational therapist on strategies or methods which you have used to support your child. These inputs are important for occupational therapist to make an assessment on your child.
Upon assessment, the occupational therapist will be able to provide information on sensory issues observed on your child. He / She will be able to prepare a plan for supporting your child.
If your child’s behavior is unmanageable despite your effort in managing the behavior, you may want to look at your child’s sensory needs. Children may seemed misbehaving when they are trying to fulfill their sensory needs. Speak to occupational therapist to get support needed to help your child’s sensory development.
Or contact us (+6018 2301 669) or email us to schedule for an appointment to discuss your concerns.