02 May Best Way to Respect Your Child’s Sensory Needs
One day when working with one of my clients, I found myself constantly redirecting him to do his work. He kept looking around the room, staring off into space, and repeating lines from videos he recently watched. When told to look at his paper, he made a grunting noise.
We were both starting to feel frustrated and impatient.
And then it hit me.
He simply needed a break to move around. I encouraged him to get up and do 20 jumping jacks. Then he ran around his house 3 times, jumped 30 more times, and suddenly it was as if a weight had just lifted right off of his shoulders (and mine). He immediately sat down, looked at his paper, picked up his pencil and got to work.
Here’s why I am sharing this story with you. Movement is incredibly important. Most of us, parents and teachers included, tend to get so caught up in the plan, that we forget that children need to MOVE their bodies in order to focus. By simply taking the time to recognize this fact, and encouraging my student to jump around, he was immediately ready to successfully complete his tasks.
Because many children with autism have difficulties with self-regulation and understanding what their bodies need, this child couldn’t find the words to tell me, “Ms. Jen, I need a break to move around.” It’s our job to figure this out.
Here are some important times to promote movement:
1. Before mealtimes
2. Before going to a movie
3. Every 30 minutes
4. Before homework time
5. At least 20 minutes into homework time
6. Before any in-seat focused task
7. Before a visit to the doctor or dentist
8. After school
9. Before a long car ride or getting on an airplane
10. During a car ride or airplane travel
By keeping in mind that your child’s body requires movement in order for him to successfully attend to tasks, you are respecting your child’s needs.