We’ve all experienced sensory overload at some point or another. It’s just that we don’t stop to think about it or give it a name. We just say the TV is too loud or the restaurant is too crowd. We don’t realize there is too much information coming in through our senses. Also, it’s usually easy for us to escape the discomfort we are feeling. We either have our partner turn down the TV or we choose a different restaurant. But it’s not that way for some children.
For some children their brain has trouble organizing and responding to information from the five senses. This could cause sensory overload such as the lights are too bright or flickering, loud noises can upset them and certain materials feel scratchy, or certain smells can overwhelm them.
As a parent the best way to avoid sensory overload is to know what triggers your child. Here are some signs that your child may be experiencing sensory overload.
- Plugging their ears, shutting their eyes or covering their face
- Running out of certain places
- Shutting down and not responding to questions
- Complaining about certain clothing or textures
If you see any of these signs, you can try to remove them from the environment. You can also try to change the environment itself. You might ask to change tables at a restaurant to move away from speakers playing loud music. You can cut the tags off their clothing or shorten time out of the house. When my son was a baby if I was out all-day running errands, he would cry for a half hour when we got home. Going to Costco, the bank, grocery store and Post Office was way too much for him. You may not be able to avoid some of these situations. But you can prepare your child for what’s coming, and brainstorm ways they can manage. If you need help, we at Treehouse Family Counseling Services are here to help. Just give us a call.
Jolen Philbrook, CBT, CHT