Meeting your child’s sensory needs is like giving your child a cup of water. It is essential to life. Their body relies on it to function. You can wait an hour to drink a cup of water, you can wait 2 hours, you can wait 6 hours. But sooner or later you will get to the point that you will fight for your life to get that water.
Children have sensory needs and they can often wait for an hour, some can wait for 2 hours, some children can even wait for 6 hours but at some point they will start fighting to get what their body needs. If you have ever experienced your child coming home from school exhausted and exploding now that they are in their safe place you will appreciate how their body will fight for an outlet to meet their sensory needs.
It is essential we meet our children’s sensory needs in a safe, appropriate way throughout the day. We can help our children grow to be able to self manage their sensory needs. We can support them by having communication systems that allow them to request their sensory tools, by having adults that understand and can allow them to access what they need and give them time to access their tools.
I challenge you: All children have sensory needs. Each child needs movement, touch, taste, visual, auditory and deep pressure experiences. Some children move away from experiences and seek others. Do you know which sensory tools help your child to remain calm and alert? Can your child request these tools or activities? Do they have safe access to options throughout their day in the different environments they are in? Can they access any sensory tools safely themselves?
Every child is different, if you need some support to meet your child’s sensory needs you can discuss with your occupational therapist
Get started by watching our free short video on Goal Setting for Parents.
I’m definitely one of those “goals” people. I love setting goals, I love reading about how to set goals and when I get emails from Amazon there’s usually a goal book in their list of recommended books which means that even when I’m not buying books about goals I’m checking them out online!
Now I prefer to support my local library and have started buying less books (one of my personal goals!). One of the books is Brian Tracy’s Goals and I listen to the audio book version in the car. I’ve gone through all the processes of writing out the goals each day and have been able to cross out 8/10 of those goals. Still my favourite goal-setting tool hands down has to be the COPM.
That’s the OT in me! COPM is the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. Unless you’re a fellow OT or other allied health professional I’m pretty sure you won’t have heard of this particular goal setting tool, but I want to give you a quick explanation and a link to get more information because I believe this can be invaluable in everyday life.
COPM is deceptively simple, which I love, it’s been in use around the world since 1991 and it’s available in over 35 languages! There’s a ton of research behind it and the underlying concept can be adapted to suit your own situation.
At it’s heart, the COPM asks you to look at different areas of your life – self-care, leisure and productivity. Here are some examples that could be used for a school student.
Self-care: While at school a student must be able to take off / put on school shoes, jacket, change into and out of physical education / sport clothes, open and close water bottles and snack containers, feed themselves, toilet themselves and more.
Leisure: While at school a student should be able to engage in enjoyable recreation and play (many will rightfully argue that play is actually in the productivity category for a child). Relaxation in-between active play, reading for leisure and enjoyment. Sports, crafts, music and art completed for enjoyment and personal expression rather than learning or skill development may fall into this category.
Productivity: This category would include activities completed for learning and enrichment. Mathematics, language, literacy, science, social studies, arts, music, drama, and sports completed to develop knowledge and skills could be placed in this category.
This goal setting tool allows you to take in a wide range of factors when helping someone to set goals. Their age, interests, roles and responsibilities, environment, motivation, current level of skill can all be taken into account. The COPM is completely individualised. It allows you to measure performance on a task and most importantly measures satisfaction with your performance. While the COPM is a standardized test that is implemented by trained clinicians you can apply the idea behind it to goal setting in your own life.
You can see these steps in action by jumping over to the COPM site where there are examples for each step.
Self-esteem and confidence are major traits in individuals that affect their success. While these are a lifelong process, the foundation of it needs to be established in early childhood. Building self-esteem will allow the child to deal with difficult situations that they will encounter during their lifetime.
Anxiety is something that exists in everyone’s life to a certain extent, and in a way it is medically known to be helpful as well. Because, anxiety helps us stay alert and be reactive to our circumstances, whether joyful or painful. However, when the anxiety reaches the stage where it overwhelms you mentally and physically, and affects your normal routine of life, you need the help of a clinical psychologist.