If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Facebook for any amount of time, you have probably gathered that (if not directly read) Becca has some sensory processing issues. In all of my research about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), I have learned that this disorder is so vast and so extremely different from one child to another that it’s super hard to quantify. I would say on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being barely having SPD or 10 being having severe SPD that totally makes the child unable to function, Becca is probably (on most days) about a 3. On most days, she does really well. Especially now that we have identified her needs, and identified her triggers that cause problems. We can usually head things off at the pass before they become a real issue.
Another thing that has helped her immensely has been having places in our house to call her own. She is a very independent child who likes to be left alone. Obviously, not all kids with SPD have this character trait. But, for those who do, I HIGHLY recommend setting up a very small, cozy spot in the main area of your home as a “Quiet Place.” The Quiet Place idea was born actually in Cody’s mind, as we struggled with her through mealtimes. The thought was that if she felt she needed to quiet down, she could go there. So, our Quiet Place is in our dining room, right next to the table.
Wedged between our China hutch, and her little art station, it’s just what the picture shows – a bean bag. SUPER SIMPLE. We introduced it to her and told her it’s her special “Quiet Place” – a place where she can take a rest anytime she needs to get away. I truly had no idea if she would really put herself in time out when she needed it. It was a leap of faith, and honestly, Cody really really gets her in a way that I often don’t… so when he has an idea, I run with it!
This has been a fabulous thing for her. When we first introduced it, I went to the “Quiet Place” with her and we’d pull a foam puzzle out of her art station and work it together, practicing whispering. The first few weeks, I had to really encourage her to go over there – “Why don’t you take this book to your Quiet Place?” Or “Why don’t you take this animal habitat to your Quiet Place?” Now, if I can’t find her, that’s where she is. Every. Single. Time. She has learned that if she just needs to escape whatever situation is bothering her, she can go there. I love that she finds comfort and shelter when she needs it.
For her, when she has a sensory trigger go off, it doesn’t always instigate a total crying meltdown. It can start up really hateful behavior, or it can just cause her to completely shutdown. More than once, I have seen her almost zombie-walk to her Quiet Place, and fall onto the beanbag. At that point, I turn off ANYTHING that is making noise, and if Grayson is awake, I take him into his room to play, and tell her she can come in when she’s ready before I shut the door. Usually within 5 minutes, she’s back to normal and joining us again.
Finding what works for your child is a great challenge for ANY parent of ANY child. But if that child has any sort of special need whatsoever – be it mental, emotional, physical, or dietary, the challenge is so much greater. It is my hope that as we find things that are consistently successful for her, I can share them with you so that maybe, just maybe our tried-and-true ideas will help someone else. The bonus about this specific idea is that it’s not a bad idea for any child to have their own “Quiet Place.” Call it whatever you will, no matter the level of “normal” or “need,” every single child loves to have things to call their own – and their own special place is just the icing on the cake.
Have multiple kids? Share the idea with them, and have them select what spot (of your pre-selected ideal areas) would be their own. Over time, you could teach them that they could go there when they are frustrated with a sibling, take time to breathe, and then go back to play. I could see that seriously cutting down on fights if they were able to pull themselves away in the heat of the moment. (And with a little training, Becca’s total shutdown zombie-walks tell me that IS possible!)
I hope this idea is helpful – let me know your thoughts!!