The holiday season is upon us already! The holiday season brings lots of opportunities and experiences with busy or large crowds, holiday music, lots of bright lights, and new or different foods. It is important to realize that many of these experiences may easily cause sensory overload for some children resulting in an overreaction, meltdown or other sensory-related behavior.
Sensory overload occurs when our body is getting more input from our senses than the brain is able to sort through and process. This overstimulation could be caused by a variety of sensory stimuli including crowded and loud areas, smelly cafeterias, and loud or unexpected noises. As an adult or individual who has identified their sensory-related triggers, one may be able to deal with these discomforts, but as a child with sensory processing issues, the overload is much more intense.
Now let’s think about a large family gathering, for instance. The smell of the food cooking in the kitchen, the timer going off on the oven, the echo of people’s voices visiting in the living room and crowded or limited space can all be very overwhelming and lead to sensory overload in children. Many of these variables are outside of a child’s control and when they are unable to cope with it, may lead to a meltdown.
Quick tips to assist with these difficulties during the holiday season include:
- Use of a visual schedule
- Avoid crowded areas or utilize noise-canceling headphones
- Take frequent breathing or movement breaks
- Create a “safe” or “calming” spot during family gathers for overwhelming situations
If your child struggles with loud noises, bright lights, difficulty with being in large crowds, picky eating, frequent meltdowns, or frequent aggression, your child may have sensory processing difficulties. Altru Pediatric Therapy can help, please call to schedule an Occupational Therapy sensory evaluation at 701.780.2477.