The festival of lights has come….
So what is special about Diwali
- Lots of friends and relatives who come to us or we go to meet them
- New clothes
- Crackers and the noise of crackers
- Lots of homemade sweets and chocolates to munch on
While, I very strongly believe is that kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) should be “given opportunities” to participate in all the activities and create their own bank of memories for each event. However, in doing so, parents can play a key role to ensure that these memories are positive and not traumatic or painful. This can be done by understanding the needs of their kids and respecting their limits.
Kids with sensory processing issues need predictability in the midst of all the chaos that their body constantly presents them with. Routines help kids with SPD to establish predictability. During vacations, the routine is disrupted and also unpredictable which increases the stress levels for kids with SPD. Increased stress levels make children very vulnerable to meltdowns. The use of consistent approaches to daily schedules and carefully planned transitions can help a child adapt to daily expectations. This means that as a parent you need to ensure that you prepare and guide the child through the daily plan through pictures or text as per your child’s level of functioning. When the child is prepared for what is coming next, he will be able to flow through the day’s routine very easily even it is unpredictable.
Lots of friends and relatives who come to us or we go to meet them:
This helps because the child gets an exposure to meet new people and also learn from them. But if the child is not prepared for this kind of a situation, you may again experience tantrums and meltdowns. In such cases, a Social story on Diwali can help. Use of Visual Schedule will also help especially with a surprise card in the middle of the schedule which can be used when the visit of your guests is unexpected.
Also, when we attend to our guests, our kids feel ignored and they start engaging in unwanted behaviors to get attention. So, it will help if the kids get the attention and their presence is acknowledged while you have a conversation with your guests. Also, it is really important to make your child understand about how long the guests will stay. Some stay for days in which case it will be better to usecalendar and explain to the kids on the number of days that they would stay. In case, the guests will stay for an hour or so, then visual timers are very helpful. There are applications on iPad which have timers or even a simple sand clock timer would be good (which has 30 minutes or an hour). If your child can read time, then it will help to show them the analogue clock and explain the passage of time with the movement of the big hand on clock.
Doing these things will ensure that the kids have predictability in the middle of unpredictable situations.
Most of the times kids have tactile issues which make it difficult for them to wear the Diwali kind of traditional clothes. In such a case, it will be preferred to respect their discomfort and allow them to wear what they are comfortable with. I am not meaning to say that this is how it will stay forever because most of these tactile issues can be worked upon but not at a time when everything else is also changing. It will be great if the traditional kurtas or the salwar kameez’s are tried at other times during the year while working on the tactile issues using Sensory integration.
Crackers and the noise of crackers:-
Many kids with SPD have sensitivity to the sounds and the sudden bursting of crackers makes it really worse because they are really unpredictable. The first thing to do will be to acknowledge that the reactions of the child due to the sound of crackers is real and not a tantrum. It can be taken care of by Therapeutic Listening. But when the sensitivity is not taken care of and you are already on the Diwali day, then other things can be done. Headphones and earplugs offer instant comfort and relief. Noise-canceling headphones are the most effective, because they replace irritating environmental noise by producing calming white noise. Earplugs are usually made of either foam or wax, and it is worth trying both types to determine which is more comfortable. You can take a break from your city and move to safe and quiet environments. You can show the child what the source of the sound is with small crackers such as gun rolls if comfortable. On several occasions, the anxiety of the child is because he does not know what the sound is and where is it coming from. I am sure you know the power of distracting your child. By giving them something like an iPad to focus on or an unusual privilege such as bringing along a favorite toy from home, it becomes possible to direct attention away from the offending noise.
Lots of homemade sweets and chocolates to munch on :
There are a lot of sweets that we eat during Diwali. It will be a good idea to give them in moderation to our kids. Research suggests that children are more sugar sensitive than adults, and the effects are more pronounced in younger children, according to Dr. Keith Conners, author of Feeding the Brain. This could be related to the fact that the brain grows rapidly in the preschool years, exaggerating the effects of sugar on behavior and learning. While studies show that activity levels go up in both hyperactive and normal children on high- sugar diets, the hyperactive children also become more aggressive.
Diwali is special and fun…so let’s make it fun for our kids as well….
Wishing you all a very happy Diwali…….