Most of my sons major challenges have to do with his sensory processing: he’s both sensory defensive and seeking. Some things are just too much for him to handle; such as super busy public places, most foods, and anything that sticks to his hands (defensive). And some days, his body and mind just need more input so he’ll do quirky things like walk on his tip toes all day, hyper-focus on spinning the wheels of his toy bus, or constantly put toys in his mouth (seeking).
Actually “mouthing objects” was a huge concern for us. He was past the point of teething, but would put anything and everything in his mouth. A remote control, toys, water bottle, cell phones, sides of furniture…literally anything that he could get into his mouth, he would try to chew on. Except for food. For some reason, any and all textures of food was just too much to process and he would even gag at the site of food. Our EI teachers explained he had sensory processing so we started daily activities to desensitize as well as provide the appropriate input he needed.
For example, we would sit him in a big bin full of beans to give him the input he needed. We would shovel beans, pour them over his hands, rub them on his feet, and swish them around. It was actually very relaxing for me too. Something about the smooth texture and sound they made was just…therapeutic. We did this almost everyday and sure enough, his seeking behaviors slowly started to lessen throughout the day.
As for the desensitizing activities…here’s where I realized I may have some sensory issues too…wait…let’s side bar a moment.
We ALL have some form of sensory issues. I have a friend who can’t stand the touch of velvet while frosted mugs gives me the willies. And we can all agree that nails on a chalkboard is the worst sound in the universe!
With that in mind, I didn’t realize how many things bothered me until our EI teachers started introducing the desensitizing activities. Do you have any idea how disgusting wet Play-Doh is!?! Well, that’s one of the first things we played with. I sat on the floor with my son, trying to help him overcome his intolerance while also trying not to barf. It only got worse from there.
Floam – ewwwww what is that even?
Water Wigglies – OMG gross. Stop it.
Jelly Beads – yeah no, I’m done.
Kinetic Sand on the other hand I could play with this all day. It’s amazing. It feels like sand, but moves in a very unnatural way that allows you to play and mold without getting it wet. I really looked forward to our sand days.
Certain things really bothered him, like finger paint. He would every so delicately touch the paint with the very tiniest tip of his finger, then immediately wipe it off on his shirt. So finger painting was added to our daily routine. Now kids should be messy and dirty and knowing his intolerance for a lot of textures, especially on his hands, I made a point not to rush to clean him up immediately. I let him stay messy until he decided he was uncomfortable and then I would offer relief with a paper towel.
After a few months, he started to warm up to certain textures and would tolerate them for a few more minutes than the previous week. And I did too.
I’m happy to announce that we now have a few finger paint masterpieces hanging on the fridge.
But I still don’t want wet Play-Doh in my house. Seriously.
Recommended Reading: Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues, Revised Edition This book gives a thorough explanation of sensory processing while providing easy and fun activities for you and your child.