Every October is Sensory Awareness Month, which makes this a perfect time to consider those children who struggle with sensory processing each day. Sensory processing refers to the way we receive messages from our senses and respond functionally. Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, affects 5-16 percent of school-aged children. It’s a condition that can dramatically influence the way we process everyday information. Of course, that can have a big effect on learning – something we occasionally see here at Huntington Learning Center of Newark, DE. However, it can also affect the pre-bedtime routine and sleep itself. Here are some tips for making bedtime a smoother process.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is a neurophysiologic state whereby sensory input either from the environment or our body is not properly detected and interpreted. The result is a neurological roadblock that prevents the brain from managing input properly. Whereas some people have impaired sight or hearing, people with SPD detect the vision or sound but may want to avoid or overuse it. The result is someone who doesn’t always feel safe, comfortable and in control.
Bedtime SPD Basics
The inappropriate responses to this sensory input mean children have unique learning and life needs. A family’s love and care are crucial when it comes to managing the basics of life. Something as simple as bedtime can be a difficult process. Experts know there are useful ways to manage sleep for sensory-seekers and sensory-avoiders.
Hypersensitive kids get overwhelmed at bedtime. They tend to spend energy avoiding things that overwhelm them. Hyposensitive children are under-sensitive to inputs and may be groggy or disconnected. There’s more to sensory processing disorder than seeking out or avoiding situations, so extra tutoring, therapy and a proper diet can help.
Knowing Bedtime Needs
Bedtime routines are important for any child, but especially those with sensory processing disorder. Parents should not be overlooked, either. Everyone who is more relaxed is better equipped to face the challenges of nighttime and get a better night’s sleep. The more you can help your child self-regulate their schedules the better.
The night routine is more than just what happens at night. Events during the day impact how the night routine will go, so it’s important to monitor what happens to your child all day long. Quality learning, proper exercise, nutritional food and sensory-friendly activities can all play a part in how the nighttime routine and subsequent sleep will go. Other sleep disrupters include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and acid reflux.
Like any disorder that can be a challenge, there are also ways to manage it. Working together with healthcare professionals, you can create a bedtime routine that will work for everyone when you understand the signs and look for recurring signals.
Date: Tuesday, October 13