If your foster child has sensory processing disorder, you’re wondering how you should manage his condition while raising him well at the same time. Some main characteristics of those with sensory issues include difficulty sleeping, difficulty with potty training even after starting preschool or kindergarten, constant meltdowns, frequent mood changes, struggles with verbal communication, and difficulty in following simple directions. You’ll need to be patient with children with this disorder and adjust your expectations if needed. Here are additional tips on raising a foster child with a sensory processing disorder.
Create a Visual Schedule
This would help teach your child what he will do each day. This schedule will include pictures and simple tasks underneath them to help him understand daily tasks better. The pictures for the visual schedule need to be placed in the correct order so that the child will not be confused when he looks at it. You can also create visual schedules for his weekly activities such as band practice, music lessons, doctors’ appointments, and church services.
Dealing With Transitions Effectively
Many kids with sensory issues struggle to embrace transitions, and there are things you can do to ease your foster child’s frustration during these times. Start by letting him know what the next task or activity will be and how the two of you are going to prepare for it. This gives your child time to gather what he needs for the task. Also, mention things that will not happen during the next task. You can say, “We’re not stopping at the burger joint this time, but you can get some candy at the store while we’re shopping.”
Provide A Quiet Place for Child to Relax
Since kids with sensory issues are prone to meltdowns and emotional triggers, it’s a good idea to provide a clutter-free and quiet space where your child can relax and calm down following his meltdown. This is not meant to punish him, but to help him get his emotions back under control.
Don’t Let Others’ Comments Get To You
Know that you’re doing the best you can in the situation you’re in. Some people might accuse you of not disciplining your child properly while others would say that you’re too quick to give your child a label. But they don’t know the many methods you used to make things easier for the child, and they don’t always realize that they’re being insensitive. Just ignore those comments and move on.
Join A Support Group
If there is a support group for parents of kids with sensory processing disorder or other types of disabilities, join it. The members will empathize with you and even offer suggestions on how to best raise your child while keeping your sanity. This could also provide your child with new friends who experience similar challenges. Exchange numbers and addresses with members, and plan some outings and playdates during the month.
One way to keep your foster child organized is to place some drop bins in his room. Label each bin with a big piece of construction paper and a Sharpie marker for the categories of items he has such as textbooks, school supplies, play clothes, and toys that he plays with during the week. Another idea would be to create a picture-based checklist where you break tasks down into small steps for your child.
Tips on Dressing Your Child With Sensory Processing Disorder
Some kids with this condition are sensitive to tags and other features on certain types of clothing. If this sounds like your child, remove those things so that he’ll be more comfortable with his outfits. Purchase clothing without fancy lace, seams, and anything else that will make him uncomfortable. Some companies specialize in clothing for children with sensory issues. These companies include Kozie Clothes, Calming Clothing Company, Blossom for Children, and Pip Squeakers. Also allow your kids a little freedom to wear the clothes they feel the most comfortable in, even if it goes against how you would dress them.
In conclusion, your foster child may have sensory processing disorder, but he’s still normal in many ways. Your job is to love him unconditionally and provide the best home environment for him. When this happens, he will grow more confident and make incredible progress.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, contact us. We offer guidance and the resources needed for you to start this journey the right way.