A Critical Skill for Kids with Sensory “Issues”

It seems like it would be easy for kids with sensory “issues” to eat. But, in reality, the whole process is hard enough that people don’t think of it as a problem until they start eating too much! Here are some ways to make feeding your child easier but keep them healthy and happy.

Sensory processing disorder is a condition that can cause kids to have issues with their senses. It’s important for parents to teach kids how to process the information they receive in order to make it easier for them. Read more in detail here: sensory processing disorder.

Learn what sensory self-regulation is, why it’s important, and which sensory tactics may help kids with sensory “problems” or challenges develop their self-regulation abilities.  



Sensory self-regulation is a word that pediatric occupational therapists, such as myself, often use when speaking with parents. But, what exactly does it imply?

While it may seem to be occupational therapy jargon, self-regulation is a crucial ability that many children with sensory difficulties, autism spectrum disorders, and sensory processing disorders, notably sensory modulation disorder, struggle with.  

Sensory youngsters who lack self-regulation abilities are often caught in an internal roller coaster of arousal levels (more on what that means in a minute). 

Sensory control issues are a big part of sensory processing issues.   


What is Sensory Self-Regulation and How Does It Work? 

The brain’s capacity to relax down or become more attentive based on the surroundings, task at hand, and social context is known as sensory self-regulation.  

Self-regulation is a process that most of us go through so rapidly that we don’t give it much consideration.  

Allow me to give you an example…

Let’s pretend you’re tired. One of the children had been awakened in the middle of the night. Everyone is on their last clean pair of underpants, and your kid has been fussing all morning. 

(I’m sure this is difficult to comprehend.)

You decide to take a stroll with the kids, put on some music and have a dance party, or have a cup of coffee to help you concentrate. Whatever option you select, you’re self-regulating because you’re changing how tired you feel when you need more energy and attention.  

If you’re wired with too much energy, the same may be said. Maybe you had a few too many glasses of coffee and now it’s time to go to bed. Take a bath, read a book, drink a cup of chamomile tea, or practice deep breathing to self-regulate.  



ALL Children’s Ultimate Goal is Self-Regulation…

The difficulty is that sensitive children often do not know how to accomplish this. They are also unaware when it is time for math class or library story time, and they should be quiet and attentive.  

They don’t notice or care if they’re bursting with energy at 9 p.m. and have to get up at 6 a.m. the next day. As a result, they’ll continue to bounce, speak, cry, or run about.  

They don’t have the abilities to modify their arousal state or level, which should develop as youngsters get older. 

When a kid is young, the parent is often in control of his or her regulation. We rock them, hug them, and give them a pacifier when they’re angry, scared, or wide awake.  

Many sensitive children are unable to adjust their arousal levels on their own. They have no idea how to shift their bodies into a lower arousal state, which is very required for sleeping, studying, sitting at the dinner table, or playing a board game with a buddy!


There are three basic regulatory modes or zones:

  • High mode is required while participating in sports or when confronted with a potentially harmful circumstance.
  • Medium mode is required for learning, playing games, concentrating, and adhering to instructions. 
  • Low mode is required for resting and unwinding.

Kids, whether they’re 2 or 12, should spend the most of the day in medium mode since they have learning activities that are critical to their growth.  

When a youngster builds simple puzzles or practices taking turns with a ball, he or she is learning. When a five-year-old writes their ABCs and plays duck-duck-goose, they are learning. When a ten-year-old has to figure out what the least common denominator is in math class or observe the rules while playing kickball at playground, they are learning.  

Because sensory kids can’t self-regulate out of a high or low arousal state to the intermediate mode where they need to be in order to concentrate, learn, and socialize, all of these things, and many more, might be challenging for them. 

They’re often locked in high gear, resulting in nonstop movement or meltdowns. 

Some sensory kids with poor registration are trapped in low mode and are irritable and uninspired all of the time. Their social skills, learning, and development may be harmed in any circumstance.  


How Can Children Control Their Sensory Systems? 

When youngsters begin to adopt sensory methods that directly match the sensory difficulties they’re experiencing, their self-regulation is typically enhanced indirectly. You can perform a lot of sensory activities with your kid, but they won’t all be beneficial. 

Some of them may even be hazardous. It’s crucial to figure out which of the eight senses is creating sensory problems and if that sense is avoiding, seeking, or not recording sensory data.  

A sensory diet, which has nothing to do with food and everything to do with a regular diet of sensory activities, is often referred to as such. I don’t use the term “diet” very frequently anymore since it has so many bad implications.  

The RISE method was intended to assist simplify the sensory diet and make it easy to utilize. It just takes four easy actions to match and apply the proper sensory activities for your kid, which helps their arousal level reduce or grow as needed.

The RISE approach is at the core of the RISE with Sensory program, and our limited-edition Super Edition is coming to an end. More information may be found here.

There are two other ways that may help youngsters learn to self-regulate on their own:

#1: Sensory Integration Exercises: Sensory integration exercises are specialized sensory activities that rewire the brain to better sensory processing. It’s all really strong. In RISE with Sensory, I teach you some basic sensory integration tasks that you may practice at home.

#2: Explain arousal levels to your child: The notion of their bodies functioning on high, medium, or low is something that children can grasp. Inquire as to what mode their body is in the most of the time. Or, if they’re having trouble with a task, what mode it’s in and how they may change it.  

Continue to utilize this language in interactions with them, and assist them relate various sensory activities to their bodies’ abilities to slow down or speed up, and they will be able to directly self-regulate their sensory system.  

We include suggestions of activities to do both, a checklist to evaluate your child’s sensory problems, and printouts to help youngsters understand their arousal level within RISE with Sensory.  



Is Sensory Self-Regulation Beneficial for Emotional Control?

Emotional regulation is distinct from self-control, yet the two are intertwined. Many parents are aware of their child’s explosive or large emotions that appear out of nowhere.  

The interoceptive sense, which is part of sensory processing, registers emotions. When a youngster strives to self-regulate his or her sensory system, particularly his or her interoceptive sense, his or her emotional control is generally improved as well.  


How to Get Help if You Have Sensory Self-Regulation Issues

If your kid is receiving occupational therapy, discuss self-regulation skills with their OT. You may also get an OT assessment; check with your insurance company to see whether it is covered.  

And, whether or whether your kid is in OT, the RISE with Sensory program teaches you how to enhance your child’s self-regulation on a regular basis at home. You will also get a large number of materials to print and use with your kid.  

The RISE with Sensory mega deal and unique benefits will end tomorrow. We have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you get in and decide it’s not for you, we’ll refund your money in full within 30 days.  

*Learn more about RISE with Sensory by clicking here!



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