Sensory avoiding is where children can feel overwhelmed by sensory inputs within their environment and may not know how to process or modulate this. This is when they are over-sensitive, and they may respond to much or too fast. Therefore, they can show behaviours such as to move away, hide or not take part in the activities.
This can often show more in school settings, where children may be struggling with the noise or overload of sensory inputs. It can often be mis-interpreted that these children are ‘naughty’ or not paying attention, and this can often cause confusion. At times processes can begin through school referrals and family referrals to support children’s attention through medication or looking into probable ADHD – hyperactive or inattentive type.
Through providing strategies to reduce the sensitivity or sensory stimulation in the environment, and through teaching the child how to modulate this and be able to regulate their emotions based around these sensory inputs; they can therefore be able to independently process and manage in a range of environments. It is also teaching them independence and lifelong skills and setting them up for success.
How to know if my child is “Avoiding” ?
· They may show to hide away under table in new settings, or community environments, such as group activities, malls, supermarkets or shopping centres.
· They be showing to really struggle to attend to academic work in the classroom, and showing to hide, cover ears, or not participate in activities.
· They may struggle to eat a range of foods and show aversions to textures, or to trying new foods.
· They may not like to be touched, or hugged.
· They may dislike materials of clothing and find some clothing uncomfortable.
· They could prefer quieter areas and prefer to be on their own.
· They may not engage in play activities such as swings, slides, or playground equipment.
There is also sensory seeking to consider, and at times these can look very similar. It is not always clear cut, as being one or the other. At times, children can show a combination of these reactions, and it can also change in terms of if the child can choose or be in control of the task or environment.
So how can I support my child?
· Even just understanding their sensory processing can help them so much, If they are being understood and not made to feel like a bad child this can impact their self confidence positively.
· We can support others to understand your child better, particularly school or day-care providers, and those that interact with your child the most.
· Knowing what can help them to feel calmer when they overwhelmed, through reducing sensory inputs, being able to offer them a quiet place to calm themselves, offer them choices to regulate their emotions and to then be able to share this with school.
· You can use the templates in the sensory Processing E book to help you find the patterns of your child's sensory processing, and the strategies to be able to support them in what to do or how you can best help them. Knowing the triggers and causes can support meltdowns, emotional outbursts and reactions.
· If you need support contact your local Occupational Therapist who can help you to implement a Sensory diet, and perhaps help to increase your child’s tolerance and modulation to some sensory inputs, e.g taste, touch and auditory.
I am so passionate about Sensory processing and how this impacts children’s functioning, I wish to support all providers and families who support child with additional developmental needs, whether that be Autism (ASD), Global developmental delay (GDD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD – ADD), or much much more. Sensory processing is often a secondary component to many developmental and neurological disorders, and there is research and evidence that relates why this may be.
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