Sensory Smart Parents
Sensory processing is how we take in and make sense of sensory information from within our own bodies and the external environment. The 8 (yes, 8!) senses of touch, sight, sound, movement, body awareness, taste, smell, and interception (sense of hunger, internal temperature, etc.) work together to give us a reliable picture of the world and our place in it.
Right now your senses are working together. You hear background sounds and feel your clothing, chair, and the floor beneath your feet. You see letters on the screen. You filter out unimportant sensory input so you can make sense of what you are reading. If you occasionally lose focus because your shirt label is making your neck itch, you may have a mild sensory issue. If you keep sliding off your chair, look away when you hear any noise, feel as if your shirt is hurting you, and perceive that the words you are reading pulsate, you may have sensory processing disorder, also known as sensory integration dysfunction. Sensory issues affect all kinds of people—from those with developmental delays, attention and learning problems, autistic spectrum disorders and other diagnoses to those without any other issues.
A child has sensory processing disorder when their sensory issues are significant enough to interfere with activities of daily living: learning, eating, socializing, grooming, and so on.
What does it mean to parent with “sensory smarts” or to be a “sensory smart parent”?
Sensory smarts is a perspective or understanding a parent achieves when she becomes aware of how her child’s sensory issues are affecting him. You know you have sensory smarts when you recognize effective ways to help your child function better, cooperate more easily, focus on learning, and enjoy socializing. A sensory smart parent helps her child develop his own sensory smarts, empowering him to advocate for himself and meet his own sensory needs in a socially acceptable way.
A sensory smart parent recognizes that sensory processing issues are very, very real, and respects that his child sometimes can’t bring herself to tolerate sensations that others take for granted.
A sensory smart parent can be a mother, father, stepparent, or grandparent.
For more information, check out the Sensory Smart Parent Blog and the award-winning Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Issues which features chapters on tuning in to your child, discipline, advocating for him, raising a sensory smart teen, empowering your child in the world, and much, much more.