Sensory Smart Journaling
Working Moms magazine published my coauthor Lindsey Biel's piece on 5 Simple Ways to Make Life Easier for Your Sensitive Kids. I hope you'll check out her marvelous article, which includes a tip for journaling to develop your sensory smarts as a parent—and like, share, and comment on the article.
In Raising a Sensory Smart Child, Lindsey and I offered several ideas for journaling: what to notice and record and how to analyze your child's behaviors and patterns. I did not keep a sensory smart journal per se when my son was little, but I have always journaled. Noting in my journal each night what I was seeing and experiencing with my little guy helped tremendously. I remember asking Lindsey so many questions when she would come to our house as our assigned occupational therapist through our state's early intervention program. She amazed me with her sensory smart insights. Here are just a few examples of what I discovered through journaling about my son with sensory issues:
We pushed too much. Too often, my husband and I thought we could squeeze in yet another activity in an already action-packed day. My son would completely melt down, even slapping himself and screaming at the top of his lungs, at the slightest provocation. My husband and I joke that we had a punch card at the chiropractor's office because we went there so often after throwing our backs out trying to restrain our (large and strong) toddler. I developed this insight about overtaxing him when I wrote about our days and the high points and low points. Inevitably, his worst tantrums happened when we did not give him enough down time as part of a sensory diet of activities and accommodations. Journaling helped me see that.
He had hearing sensitivities. I couldn't figure out why my husband and I could play guitar together at the beach and sing with passion, harmonizing with each other, and my son was fine with it, but if one of us started to sing while tidying up around the house? That was intolerable! My little guy would start to whine and cry. He was preverbal, so I really needed help from my sensory smart OT to figure out what was going on. Lindsey explained that the difference in acoustics between singing or playing an instrument in a closed space versus outdoors is huge for a child with hearing sensitivities. I never thought about qualities of sounds bothering my son. After that, I paid attention to what types of auditory experiences upset him (other than the obvious 4th of July fireworks events and the like!)
He liked red. And green. A lot. Strange as I found it, there were commonalities between the one pair of shoes my son would put on without protest, the one bicycle helmet he tolerated, and the shirts he chose to wear: color. By journaling about what worked for him, I discovered this sensory patterns. Talk about an invaluable insight! Red and green were both a "go" for him and I could that insight when I wanted him to try on a hat or mittens or try a new food (we had red and green plates).
By doing sensory smart journaling (journaling to develop a better understanding of your child's sensory issues and what does and doesn't work for him), I bet you will gain some powerful insights that will help you. Journal about sleep and food, and sensations such as sounds, smells, and temperature and texture (both are commonly overlooked tactile sensations).
What about you? Have you discovered any clues to your child's behavior and what works for her by doing sensory smart journaling?