You don’t have to offer your child a tablet. Try a book or a sticker activity instead!
Yes, tummy time. It isn’t just for babies anymore.
Why? Because occupational therapists know that the physical effects of working against gravity to push one’s head and shoulders up, and the firmness and warmth of contact with the floor are also sensory-based modulation strategies. What helps babies build core control can also calm upset or disorganized toddlers and older kids.
The decrease in visual input can improve calmness and attention for those kids whose eyes dart everywhere. Not everyone can handle a visual stimulating room. Some children need more vestibular input to reorganize, but some do better with the stillness of “tummy time”.
Having trouble convincing your child to lie on their belly? Join them, or get a sibling to model it. Make a special new book collection for tummy time, and only have it available at that time. Get a tent, and add the effects of an enclosed space to tummy time to make it more deeply calming.
Young children thrive with routines, but for kids with sensory modulation difficulties, the difference in their abilities when you support them with routines is amazing.
Adults thrive with routines as well, we just don’t think about it. Try going through your morning routine, for example, in a different order. Drink your coffee before OR after your shower. Start a new job in a new field. Take a different way home each day of the week. I will bet that you will forget to do something important or be less efficient than you anticipated. Our kids with sensory modulation issues feel like that when we give them fewer routines than they need. In my sessions with very disregulated kids, I try to always use a supportive greeting routine and an ending routine to help them through the transitions. Some children need more routines when going through life changes such as the addition of a new sibling or starting a new school.
Children with sensory modulation issues struggle to keep their alertness and responsiveness at that “just right” level where they can function well. Novelty is stimulating to the brain, and some children struggle with getting back to that calm state with minor novelty, such as changing breakfast cereals or toothpaste brands. Some can handle that level, but when many changes happen at once, they add up to internal chaos. In my sessions with very disregulated kids, I try to always use a familiar greeting and ending routine to help them through the transition states. Some children need additional routines in their lives when facing changes such as a new sibling or starting a new school. Routines help them anticipate what will happen and how it will happen, and in what sequence it will happen. If they have language processing issues, it reduces the number of times they have to ask “What did you say?” or forget a multiple-step direction.
Life is a series of unexpected events, so even the most consistent routines will be broken. Your child will not become a robot by having a few more healthy routines. He may even sleep and eat better when he is in a more modulated state. You may see more language or more mature language skills emerging.