Winter Holiday Tips for Children With SPD
For children with sensory processing disorder (SPD), everyday playtime can present challenges. During the winter breaks, when school is out of session and kids are looking for things to do, these challenges can be magnified.
SPD can be experienced in a variety of ways. While some children with SPD may not respond at all to stimuli, others can be easily overstimulated. Thankfully, there are a number of wintertime activities that can bring joy and comfort to children dealing with SPD, regardless of the obstacles that they may face.
Here are a few examples of things to try during the winter months to calm nerves and reduce sensory overload:
Have Fun Using Tactile Play
SPD can dull tactile sensations in some children. Gently introducing your child to a range of touches can boost their confidence. Activities that can assist in this include decorating the holiday tree, playing in the snow, rolling and shaping cookie dough and building with modeling clay.
When playing outside, encourage children to pick up and form snowballs. Introducing ways to feel the compacted snow with and without mittens on can increase feelings of sensation against their skin. Other snow activities that can enhance tactile sensations can include making snowmen and building snow forts.
Wear Compression Attire
Certain clothing can go a long way in soothing children with SPD during holiday activities. Compression wear that simulates a hugging sensation can help calm children when they are overstimulated. Items like seamless undershirts can be a good addition to any winter wardrobe. They can provide warmth while ensuring that your child is receiving gentle compression that will help calm them during winter activities that may cause anxiety. Seamless moisture wicking garments with no elastic bands or tags can remove the nuisance of bumps, seams, and ‘ouchies’ that children with SPD may be sensitive to.
The seasonally cold temperature makes the winter holidays an ideal time to try out compression clothing while your child is at play.
Create New Sensations
Our senses interact with our brains, which then transmit signals for appropriate flexing, grasping and movement. Children with SPD can have sensory issues that may dull the proprioceptive systems that bridge the two. To help counter gaps, activities like tunneling through snow, rolling out holiday cookie dough and shaking snow globes can encourage healthy growth in sensing body positioning and movement.
The vestibular system controls the sense of balance and spatial orientation for movement coordination. It helps us detect body movements, the pull of gravity and the speed and direction of our movements. SPD can present certain difficulties with the vestibular system. This can result in clumsiness, discoordination and motion sickness.
During the winter holiday, activities like ice skating, being pulled on a sled and taking sleigh rides can help sharpen vestibular system response. These fun cold weather activities integrate movement and balance and offer an exciting way to welcome in the chilly temperatures during breaks from school.
There are a range of activities for the winter holiday period that will keep kids occupied. Keep these in mind during the break and you will be sure to have fun while relishing in the relaxation of the season.