Sensory Processing Disorder

Touchy, Feely Solutions to a Child’s Sensory Issues

My 11-year-old daughter has been wearing clothes that seem inappropriate for the weather. It was really hot this past summer, but she wore flannel pajamas at night. When we turned on the fan in her room, she was bothered by the sound. I also found that she doesn’t want to turn the lights on in the morning. Does she have sensory issues?

Whether your daughter has sensory processing disorder (SPD), your attention to her tactile, auditory, and visual challenges will make her more comfortable physically. She’ll also be grateful that you take her complaints seriously and try to address them. Here’s what I advise:

> PJs: She may be wearing flannel PJs not for warmth but because they protect her skin from irritating tactile sensations coming from sheets or the fan. Buy some lightweight, all-cotton, soft, smooth (no tags or seams) summer pajamas, such as Hanes long-sleeved cool Dri t-shirts. You might also check out the website Fun and Function for clothes especially made for children with tactile sensitivities. Finally, splurge on the highest-quality cotton sheets (without polyester).

> Fan noise: A white-noise machine may mask the sound of the fan. Some people with auditory challenges recommend sleeping with soft music to block out house sounds.

> Bright lights: Many people, with and without SPD, adjust slowly to environmental transitions, such as going from darkness to bright light. It could be that “cool” light bulbs in her bedroom irritate her visual system, so change to incandescent or “warm white” bulbs that disperse a kinder light. If she can get dressed without the lights on, indulge her preference to get dressed in a dimly lit room while her eyes wake up.

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