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Smooth Transition Tips: Successful School Days and Sensory Processing Disorders

Navigating the intricacies of daily routines can often feel like traversing a labyrinth, especially when your child grapples with sensory processing difficulties. “Transitions” from one activity to another may seem like stumbling blocks, highlighting the profound impact of sensory challenges on your child's daily life. Among these hurdles, proprioception and

Biography introducing Julia Deney, the owner of Sense-ational You, a sensory clothing line that Kozie Clothes partnered with for Autism Awareness Month

vestibular sensory processing emerge as significant players. Proprioception, governing body awareness and movement, and vestibular processing, regulating balance and spatial orientation, profoundly influence your child's transitions. It's crucial to recognize that sensory meltdowns aren't solely triggered by the typical suspects of touch, smell, and taste; disruptions in proprioceptive and vestibular input also play pivotal roles. As a parent navigating this terrain, you understand the multifaceted nature of your child's sensory experience. With this shared understanding, we delve into strategies aimed at fostering smoother transitions, respecting both your intelligence and your intimate comprehension of your child's journey. 


Let’s explore some of the major transition points in your child’s day and go over some sensory diet ideas.


Smooth Transition Tips with Sensory Processing Disorders: It can be complex!

Transitioning isn't just a physical process; it's a cognitive journey. For children, especially those with neurological and developmental differences, this journey can be particularly daunting. From sensory sensitivities to fine motor challenges, each aspect plays a role in shaping their experience. 


Tactile, Proprioceptive, Vestibular Sensitivities  

One of the primary hurdles in transitioning stems from sensory issues. For instance, clothing

A mother and her two children with sensory processing disorders navigating their morning transitions of getting ready for school and getting dressed in their family closet

irritation can trigger discomfort, leading to resistance towards getting dressed. If you’re reading this, it's likely that you also are familiar with the intensity that can follow an undesirable texture or interaction with skin contact. It can take only a second to trigger a major sensory response in our children, but that single second can wind up impacting the entire day and altering the emotions and ability to regulate throughout the day. With Tactile, proprioception and vestibular sensory difficulties or disorders, kids may present some of the following tactile needs when navigating environments in their day:

  • A need for deep pressure 

  • difficulty managing fastening due to touch issues

  • difficulty with certain fabrics textures

  • A need for tight clothing / compression clothing

  • A need for loose and slouchy clothing to be remove

  • difficulty managing fastening due to touch issues

  • difficulty with certain fabrics textures

  • difficulty with certain food textures

  • difficulty with bilateral coordination successfully and     smoothly using both sides of the body to perform tasks   such as grooming, dressing, eating

  • poor motor planning to plan the sequence   to perform activities such as fastenings

  • difficulty with emotional regulation, (consider a need for deep pressure/ compression clothing, etc.


Oral Sensitivity

Similarly, oral sensitivities can complicate tasks like teeth brushing or having breakfast; turning a routine activity into a battleground. As Sensory Solutions put it, “Children with atypical oral processing may respond in a heightened way to oral input; this is called oral hypersensitivity (or oral aversion or defensiveness). These children may be considered “picky” or “selective” eaters, choke or gag easily, resist utensils, and/or resist tooth brushing or the dentist.” The team at Sensory Solutions suggests things like:

  • Utilizing a vibrating toothbrush

  • Preparing crunchy or chewy foods (like granola, nuts, raw vegetables, apples)

  • Using a straw for purees (yogurts, puddings, apple sauces etc.)


Proprioceptive and vestibular disorders pose additional challenges when it comes to oral hygiene. Imagine trying to perform precise, controlled movements with a toothbrush while grappling with difficulties isolating body movements, spatial awareness and misjudged-force characteristic of these processing disorders. It's easy to understand how frustrating, or even seemingly impossible, this task can become when sensory processing is disrupted in this way.

An image depicting a neurodivergent child brushing his teeth with an electric toothbrush, the toothbrush looks like it is emitting triggering energetic frequencies.

Sleep Quality

A good night's sleep sets the tone for the day ahead. But, as you may already know, night time and quality sleep can be elusive when sensory, proprioceptive and vestibular processing disorders are involved. Restlessness can be caused by loose sheets, incorrect textures, anxiety, lack of routine, over stimulations, etc.  Some Some helpful practices and tools for creating a sensory diet surrounding bed-time could include:

  • Consistent pre-bed routine

  • Ensuring bedtime activities are happening at same time each day 

  • Weighted blankets! 

  • Rocking chairs





Navigating the Journey

Always striving to approach transitions from a place of calm and peacefulness is important. That doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect, it's just a reminder that as a parent, we get to set the tone, choose the moment, and prepare for the transition. Each day is a journey for everyone in the world, when it comes to navigating the journey with sensory processing considerations, it just takes a little bit of additional intentionality. 


Strategies for Success

Despite the challenges, there are several strategies parents can employ to facilitate smoother transitions. A personal “sensory diet” or plan geared towards regulating your child’s sensory processing difficulties will be as unique as your little one. It takes some thought and planning ahead of time, but a diet of activities can be one of the most supportive things to help structure your family’s day. Consider having your child help make simple choices; even better yet, if you can begin discussing and making those choices the night before, it will help prepare and ease everyone into the moment when transitions are happening. Here are some of our main players in a sensory diet.


Establishing Routines

Routines provide a sense of predictability, easing anxiety and reducing resistance. Establishing a consistent morning routine can set the tone for a calmer transition. Both Kozie Clothes and Sense-ational You have clothing lines that can help add supportive designs to your everyday routine.


Sensory-friendly Solutions

Invest in sensory-friendly clothing and accessories designed to minimize discomfort and sensory overload. Seamless socks, tear away or tagless shirts, flat seams, soft, breathable, and wicking fabrics can make a world of difference.


Sense-ational You has amazing Sound Reducing Sensory Hoodies for Sensory-friendly solutions.


Sense-ational You Sound Reducing Sensory Hoodie being modeled

















Visual Supports

Visual schedules and checklists offer a tangible roadmap, guiding your child through each step of the transition process. Use pictures or symbols to reinforce expectations and reduce anxiety. As well, the accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from your child getting to “check”, remove or erase each activity when it is complete is empowering for everyone in the family!


Auditory Supports

Understanding and having things such as a timer, chime or a  favourite song can be extremely beneficial for a little one during transitions from one activity to the next. If there are songs that you can sing or play on your phone, it is helpful to have those available. Creating a playlist that you can play in the background in a way that is not over stimulating helps create an environment of ease.


LOTS AND LOTS OF LOVE!

Never underestimate the power and importance of your verbal and nonverbal support. Physical and nonphysical affection. Hugs are a superpower. Big breaths and loving moments of connection can be the difference between frustration and calm steadiness.


Addressing Individual Needs

Every child is unique, with their own set of challenges and strengths. Tailor your approach based on your child's specific needs and preferences. Encourage open communication and empower your child to express their feelings and concerns. Validate their emotions and work together to find solutions. 


Conclusion

Smooth Transitions, Brighter Days

Transitioning from home to school is more than just a physical journey; it's an opportunity to empower our children and set the stage for a successful day ahead. To implement these smooth transition tips for children with sensory processing disorders, we need to first understand each child's unique needs. Then we can focus on implementing strategies, and fostering open communication, we can transform challenging transitions into moments of growth and connection.


Step into a Smooth Transition

Are you ready to embark on a smoother transition journey? Explore our sensory-friendly products and resources to support your child every step of the way.



Join Our Community

Connect with other parents and caregivers navigating similar journeys. Share experiences, seek advice, and find solidarity in our supportive community. We would love to hear from you in the comments about effective strategies you use throughout your day to create healthy and stable transitions for your little one!

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