Sensory Processing Disorder & Hyperactive behavior….I have found that children with Sensory Issues can also exhibit traits that mimic Hyperactive behavior. Whether they are sensory seeking, or sensory sensitive, these kids can have a somewhat “backward” relationship with stimuli, and it’s effect on them.
When my children both started to look like two nuclear energy balls…figuring out how to slow them down of course became a focus.
Using good, basic common sense, it seemed to me that if my little guys had a lot of energy, I should encourage activities that would require “high energy output” in order to slow them down, tire them out. Activities that involved lots of running, jumping, big cardiac workouts…I took my kids to parks, long bike rides, jumpy places…..for hours I would watch them put out immense amounts of energy. I then would wait for the end of the day CRASH…Waited for the “Mommy..I’m sooo tired”…..Surprise…it very seldom came, if ever.
So I thought, I must add more activity to their day! That of course involved longer bike rides, extended park time for them to run around and scream their little heads off….Nothing…again, very seldom did these kids come home energy depleted….
Then the irony hit me, “IT SEEMED THAT THE MORE ENERGY MY KIDS PUT OUT, THE MORE ENERGY THEY GOT” Like little magnetic energy balls, it became more apparent that they seemed to feed off heightened levels of stimuli. By the end of a high energy day, my children were not tired. They were crabby and more emotional volatile, a little crazy, but not tired. Hence, what wore most kids out by the end of the day seemed to have the opposite effect on mine.
Sensory Kids: An inability to take in external stimuli and organize it effectively…..
One day, we decided to go to the beach. I watched my kids swim against Lake Michigan currents, build sand castles, which required several trips back and forth carrying heavy buckets filled with water and wet sand. I watched them move around an old abandoned tire around the beach for hours. They manipulated this tire for hours…slow, heavy, methodical work. I watched them run the beach…running on sand I noticed caused “resistance”. They were unable to reach peak speed. Their sprints in the sand were slower, required a more controlled effort. It was not an especially hot day. Actually it was early fall and quite cool. So at the end of the day, when we promptly loaded our two little darlings into the back of the car for the ride home, I was quite amazed to find that they zonked out in five minutes. THEY FELL ASLEEP. THEY NEVER FELL ASLEEP IN THE CAR!!
Huh? What was different about this day? I had in fact seen them put out much higher levels of energy and it had not fazed them a bit. In fact when they were five, we as a family did a 15 mile bike ride in Michigan..they did not fall asleep that day.
It was this day that I gleaned my first insights into how you go about slowing down a sensory kid.
The key does not lie in how “much” energy is put out. The key seemed to lie in “what kind” of energy was being put out: Slow, Deep, Controlled.
From that point on, when I wanted to tire my kids out, or slow them down. I tried something different. I didn’t make them run around, or put them on their bikes for hours, or bring them to jumpie gyms…Nope…I did these kinds of things instead….
I ask them to move my furniture around the house several times until I find the “perfect”spot. I have them move boxes filled with books from one room to the next in an effort to “help” mommy. I bring them to beaches and swimming pools. I look for sled parks and challenge them to races “up” the hill (winter or summer). I enrolled them in gymnastics, the rope climbing, parallel bars, rings…When I needed a hole dug, (weather I really needed one or not), I had them dig it. Raking leaves….
Slow, Deep, Controlled. I believe that several important things happen when a High strung, sensory kid engages in these kinds of movements. First, the sensory input is what their brains crave and need. The deep, controlled movements give sensational sensory input and the brains says “aaah”. Second, The movements are slow, again, more controlled, and it teaches the brain “how” to “slow down”, actually allows the brain to feel what it’s like to go at a slower pace. Third, Ever exercise? Try riding a bike. It is much easier and less taxing on the body if you are peddling fast on a light gear. Switch it to a higher, harder gear. I guarantee you, it will slow you down, you will feel the resistance, it will be much harder, and you will feel like you had a much harder work out in the end and you will be tired. Slow down your child’s pace with added resistance: you will get a tired child who slows down.
The furniture? A lot of deep slow resistance that also slows down their pace. The boxes? Same thing. The swimming pool and beach? While it may appear that your kids are moving fast, but not if you compare it to running at a park. The water provides resistance, gives them great sensory input, and indeed it is a slower deeper energy output. Running up hills? Much the same…Get it?
So. When you are trying to slow your children down, remember these tips….Slow, Deep, Controlled.