Children with sensory overload will display signs that will let you know that they are not regulated, even if they are not able to tell you themselves. These signs can consist of changes in mood to changes in muscle tone.
You will notice constant fidgeting, restlessness, or that they can not stay focused on a single task. Children with sensory overload may avoid touching others or being touched by others. They can sometimes become so frustrated that they shut down when they can not control their emotions.
Some children will appear confused or display decreased or increased muscle tone. With all the tell-tell signs listed, I wanted to provide you with a few products that I have personally used with my students to help regulate sensory overload.
It is also important to know that catching these signs early will not only help your child self regulate, but it can prevent further escalation of suffering from sensory overload.
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What is sensory overload?
Sensory overload is a result of a child being over-stimulated by their environment. The cause for most children can include the child being stressed, having anxiety, or even fatigue. Sensory overload can also be caused by a reaction from the child’s senses, such as a smell in the room, excessively loud noise, or bright lights.
When a child is experiencing sensory overload, they are having a hard time managing the input from their senses. They are getting so many messages from their senses that their brains can not keep up to process it all. Sensory overload often leaves children feeling overwhelmed, and if left untreated can result in meltdowns in children.
So, I’ve listed five products that I use the most in the Occupational therapy (OT) room to manage, reduce, or prevent sensory overload.
Children love these stretchy body socks! They are perfect for children with sensory processing disorders, autism, and ADHD. Sensory socks provide the ultimate full-body sensory experience, providing children with deep pressure through their joints.
The body sock offers many benefits to children outside of being just fun. They help to improve body awareness, balance, spatial awareness, and motor planning. Sensory sox provide a sense of calm within your child while releasing stress during playtime.
If you are looking for a fun way to manage sensory regulation, you can purchase a sensory sox here.
Therapy swings are very beneficial for children with sensory processing disorders. Swinging benefits both children who are sensory seeking and those who are overloaded with sensory input. Swings provide vestibular and proprioceptive while providing children with a calming experience.
What’s fascinating about sensory swings is that they help improve balance, motor skills, bilateral coordination, and increase body strength during play. If you are looking for a fun way to keep your child engaged while improving gross and fine motor skills, look no further.
You can purchase your therapy swing here.
These provide the perfect place for your child to relax while getting relief from sensory overload. Peapods are comfortable, and children love hanging out in them. I have a student who loves to pretend he is in a pirate ship rocking his way to shore!
They provide your child with a hug like calming relief while inside of the peapod. While playing, children are receiving the right amount of sensory input they need via deep touch pressure. Peapods also provide vestibular input when your child rocks the boat. The Vestibular input helps to improve body awareness so that your child knows where they are compared to other items near them.
These cozy little boats are perfect additions to any sensory room that will keep your kids entertained for hours! If you are looking for something that will provide the right amount of sensory input that your child needs daily, I think you should give this a try. I am positive your child would love it!
You can purchase this fun, cozy boat here.
A weighted vest is a perfect way for your child to get the needed sensory input on the go. They are used to help support children with ADHD, autism, and sensory processing disorders.
The benefits of wearing a weighted vest include increasing body awareness, improving attention, and focus. Vests help to improve fine motor skills and trunk stability, along with many other benefits you can read here. The weighted vest also helps prevent meltdowns through proprioceptive input, which helps to reduce sensory overload.
Vests are purchased based on your child’s size and age to ensure they are received the appropriate amount of sensory input. Wearing a weighted vest also comes with a wear schedule. The most your child should wear the vest is 15 to 60 minutes before taking it off and allow 30-60 minutes before putting it back on.
Your Occupational Therapist can also recommend a wear schedule for you based on your child’s individual needs. The vest is most beneficial when worn for an entire activity uninterrupted.
If this sounds like something that will benefit your child, you can purchase your weighted vest here.
If you have a wiggly child, seat cushions work like a charm! Seat cushions are a perfect solution for children who can not stay in their seats!
They help provide sensory input to help your child stay focused while in class or for a seated activity. Children with ADHD, sensory processing disorder, or autism can benefit from a seat cushion. The cushions improve energy levels while strengthening the core muscles that children need to sit upright for long periods.
Strengthening core muscles has many benefits in itself. A strong core allows children to improve their posture and increase their ability to sit for long periods at a time.
Having improved posture with the ability to sit longer helps to increase their fine motor skills. Improved fine motor skills allow them to produce better handwriting. Having a strong core will also allow them to participate easier in gross motor activities.
If this is something that may benefit your child, you can purchase a seat cushion here.
Sensory overload is something that we want to avoid and can be avoided with the right products. The products that I mentioned above have been used in my sessions and really help my students by providing them with the right amount of sensory input needed to function throughout the school day.
The products listed above are fun for the students. They give the children additional benefits such as increased focus, attention to tasks, and improved body awareness.
Utilizing these products within an individualized sensory diet can ensure that your child will get the appropriate amount of sensory input needed daily.
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about the author
Erika is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant working in an elementary school setting. She wanted to create a blog and podcast that shows all sides of school-based learning. Her #1 focus is on providing parents of children with learning disabilities with relevant information in hopes of making each day a little more functional. So if you are interested in more content like this, please sign up below.