The Low Down on Sensory OverloadJan 20, 2021
Dragging a kicking and screaming child out of a grocery store is both embarrassing and traumatizing. Sadly, for parents of children with sensory overload, this is an all-too-common occurrence.
Sensory overload occurs when a child's neurological system becomes overwhelmed with sensory messages.
Like a traffic jam in the brain, the messages flood the system causing either a fight or flight syndrome. Sensory overload is a common symptom of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
After pleading with a child to stop screaming, restocking the oranges they knocked all over the floor, and carrying your kicking and screaming child out the door, you may find yourself asking the following questions:
- Will people think I am kidnapping my own child?
- Will I get charged with child abuse?
- Will life ever be normal again?
We understand. We've been there! Here's a few tips we learned along the way that may help to ease the stress of sensory overload.
Make a Plan
A sensory-vibrant atmosphere can be exceptionally overwhelming for a child struggling with a ADHD, SPD or anxiety. The sights, sounds and energy can easily overwhelm their system.
The best way to address a sensory overload is to plan ahead! Below is an example of planning for a quick stop at the grocery store, and the six life-saving tips to avoid sensory overload.
Discuss where you are going, what will occur at the store, how long you will be there and what you expect of your child's behavior.
Provide your child with a job such as pushing the cart, helping find grocery items or crossing off the grocery list to keep them focused.
Ditch the iPad or phone (technology will only further exacerbate their anxiety) and give them books, noise-canceling headphones and a soft blanket.
Have a signal or procedure to follow in the event that your child feels they need reminders and support.
Prioritize for efficiency. Have a list of priority items and stay focused on obtaining those items first. Resist the impulse to linger over unplanned items.
And last, but not least, get in and get out! Stick to the plan you laid out for your child. This will help to build trust and decrease future anxiety.
Life with a child with sensory challenges doesn't have to be limiting! But it does require better planning on your part.
Ivy Wild Kids is passionate about helping families embrace and organize the wild of ADHD, so children can realize their full potential and families can live happier and healthier lives!
We are so excited you found us and look forward to seeing you in our community!