So, what works? I mentioned cutting the chicken nuggets. I do the same with almost all sandwiches. I monitor, very closely, how much he has in his mouth. He is accustomed to this and knows to open up when I say "show me your mouth," or something similar. I also allow him to freely eat things that I know are good for him, usually crunchy snacks like cereal, chips, crackers or crunchy non-sugary cookies like arrowroot or shortbread. He also is allowed a pacifier at night to help him sleep. His developmental therapist has also given us a lot of great suggestions which, so far, are working very VERY well. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Rocking in a rocking chair
- Rocking on the floor: place the child's feet on the shins of your crossed legs and hold their hands while you rock back and forth and sing a song like "Row, Row your Boat"
- Wrap the child in a heavy blanket, or tightly in a thin blanket or sheet
- Set up a tent with sheets, blankets and books in the living room
- Make cookies, the repetitive motion of mixing is calming for SPD kids
- Helping with household chores; give the child a rag to 'help' dust or wipe off the table. My toddler helps me move laundry into the dryer, microwave his food, 'sweep' the kitchen floor, etc.
- Bear hugs, or a hug sandwich. If you have two parents at home, have one parent hold the child and hug the other with the child smooshed in between. This is oddly soothing, and is especially helpful for us during tantrums or other times of emotional stress when our toddler needs to calm down. We also squish him behind our back on the couch. He LOVES this and often pulls us back to squish him again and again
- Bath time is especially treasured for our son. There is something soothing for him about the water.
- Chew toys (yes, they make these for kids too, not just dogs) just Google Chew Stix or Chewy Tubes
There are a lot of great resources online for information on other sensory processing disorders and help for those of us who struggle to parent one (or more) of these children. Check out these websites:
The Sensory Processing Foundation: http://www.spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder.html
The Sensory University: http://sensoryuniversity.com/
The Spiral Foundation: http://www.thespiralfoundation.org/
Or check with your local county's early intervention program (kids under 3) or your state department of health's child development clinic.