Boy points at activities on calendar learning days

Parenting a child with sensory processing disorder (SPD) can be challenging. Meltdowns, sensory triggers, behavioral issues and self-regulation skills are all issues we deal with on a regular basis. After a year of researching SPD and working with my child, all of these issues still exist. Some days are easier than others. Other days, I wonder what I need to do.

While I’m still trying to figure everything out, I’ve found some things that help me parent a child with SPD.

1. Create a visual schedule.

For a long time, I was hesitant about creating a visual schedule. I’d heard so many wonderful things about having a visual schedule for a child with SPD, but I honestly thought my child was doing just fine without one. But after two weeks of constant meltdown mode, I realized his schedule had changed. Then I decided to try the visual schedule.

And by visual schedule, I mean put each day’s events into writing and make them visible for your child. We use a magnetic dry-erase calendar like this one on Amazon, and I put a magnet on today’s date so he knows where to look.

After seeing all the benefits of having this schedule, I could’ve kicked myself for not doing this sooner.

2. Join a support group.

Whether it’s something local or online, connecting with others who are familiar with your situation is very beneficial. Regardless of how supportive your family is, there are some things they may not understand that others in a support group will. It helps to ease that “I’m alone” feeling.

3. Do some research.

Trying your best to understand sensory processing disorder is beneficial for both the parent and child. This might include talking with a professional, reading a book or looking up information online. Some of my favorite websites and blogs include The Sensory Spectrum, Lemon Lime Adventures and My Mundane and Miraculous Life. And some of my favorite books are “Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals,” “The Out-of-Sync Child” and “Raising a Sensory Smart Child.”

4. Consider your own sensory issues.

We all have sensory issues. There are sounds, smells and textures that might bother some and not others. Most of us can agree that the sound of nails scratching a blackboard is excruciating. I have a special blanket I prefer to sleep with. I can’t stand the feeling of dirt on my hands or feet, which makes wearing my favorite flip flops difficult. Certain noises will send a shudder down my spine. While my sensory issues don’t cause me to have a meltdown, I try to remember the things that bother me when my child’s sensory triggers are causing him issues.

5. Develop a sensory diet.

Making time each day for activities to help fulfill your child’s sensory needs can make a big difference. When our days are filled with playing at the park, swimming, jumping and spinning, my child seems to be more balanced.