Sensory integration disorder and participating in group sports
It is well known that exercise and what the occupational therapy world call "heavy work" are a great way to regulate an out of sync nervous system. Whether your child is 3, 6, 9 or older, you will be inundated with opportunities for group sports. We had some rocky times with this in the begining at 3 but have gotten our son to the point that he functions well on a team. So much good comes out of this. I'll be back to post some tips but am also interested if anyone else who has a child with a nervous system issue of any sort or a difficult temperment has had any success in group sports.
So, sports is something that many kids get put into or want to try and is an excellent choice for kids with sensory integration disorder, depending on the child.
We tried an organized sport, soccer, at three with my son. It was before he was diagnosed and it didn't go well. He was the outlyer, the one not with the program or connecting to the group at all. I remember it vividly as it was painful for me. You want your child to fit in and when they plainly don't, it is hard on a mother's heart. We ended up leaving that program before it was over and I think that was a good choice.
Some kids aren't ready OR they hate it. Then you don't push them in my opinion when they are very young because you don't want them to say "I hate soccer." Like that one experience defines how they feel about it for life. My son has a friend with adhd that says he hates ALL sports as he was put in things when he was in the toddler years through kindergarten and it made him feel bad about himself, like he couldn't do it and hence, now protects himself by saying he hates all sports. It is unfortunate because boys on our block play sporty games and he will not participate. granted, some kids don't like sports but pushing when they are little or struggling with the idea of it can leave a bad taste in their mouth.
BUT, my boy is a sporty guy, we are a family that is interested in athletics, we just let him choose what he wanted to try and put no pressure on it.
If you have a child with a developmental issue, keeping your expectations in line helps a good deal. I look at all team experiences first as a chance for positive social interaction. Then I look at it as an opportunity for my son to learn to follow directions and show respect to a coach. And overall, I want my boy to view it as fun. Some parents even at my son's age of 8 can get pretty intense about the whole thing and this can backfire for a sensory kid.
When he was younger, we would practice/play the sport in our backyard. It helped make him comfortable. Consequently, I watched the kids' practices very closely to see what kinds of games we could do as a family related to what the coach was doing. I would sit behind my son when he was with the other kids sitting as a team ---- not right in there, but behind him. If he was too touchy with someone next to him -- I'd gently say "hands to self". If he was having trouble sitting, I'd redirect, give him a fidget to hold, etc. As he's gotten older, I sit nearby with my eye on the situation and do give occasional reminders but do so quietly so that I don't embarress him with his teammates.
Working on good sportsmaship is important. Kids have to know how to be good winners and losers. Practice this at home and have high expectations for your child when at a practice or game. The phrase "good game" is essential to say to the other team if they win. Many sensory kids have trouble with this or they tear up over a loss of any sort. Help drive home appropriate behavior.
Staying focused is a toughie for a sensory kid and those with other developmental issues. A strategy that we use is a piece of chewing gum. It really helps keep a child centered and watching what is going on.
Anyway, these are some thoughts on the subject. In our culture, it helps to be involved in things that other kids are doing for socialability of our kids. So sports can be a very good thing.
I have a 6 yr old that i have always described as very active or full of spirit. I have suspected for the last year he is spd and find myself sometimes reading tips and tricks type material (so i love your sensory diet...is there a full list somewhere).
I enrolled him in soccer at 4. I thought he would love the physical play, the interaction, and having to take direction from a coach...how perfect! It was 3 on 3with 5 players...unfortunately neither of the coaches children would step on the field during a game so there were no breaks for the other kids. My son, who loved the running, the chasing the ball, the bumping with 6 kids on the field began to tackle every child there. The coaches had no one to substitute, so they continued to play him. 3 more games we can get thru this. I pulled him from each game to rest for a while, when he was getting too physical.
He does still play soccer and has stopped tackling but it has been a rough road. He still says he can't wait to be 7 to play football.
I find it funny when people worry about their children plalying video games because their child is sedentary. When mine does play it is a work out he is standing, jumping,running whatever the game is doing. I usually stop him because he is soaked.
He is almost always right with me. I was cleaning the kitchen today and he was leaning on me to the point of putting me off balance. He just kind of leans a shoulder into me. Same thing when reading books.
He speaks loudly...at 3 i had his hearing evaluated because he talked so loud.ifind i now just remind him to turn the volume down.
I've learned to provide him countdown to leave the park or somewhere fun. 10 min, 5 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min...times up. Has almost eliminated those meltdown.
This may be my issue but i still lay down with him at bedtime. He asks me to make him warm. This really means put ur arm across me and a leg . Basically a bear hug and he's snoring in 2 min
He started k last yr and i spoke to his teach biweekly by email or phone. She indicated he was the ONE child she had to keep an eye on. Give an inch take a mile type thing. He often had comments on his schoolwork for not listening, not following directions. He almost refuses to color. She did state one time he is definitely not add, which i did not think, but he is certainly more physical (but not trying to be harmful) than others in his class or activities.
I'm torn with the idea of having him evaluated for fear of putting a label on him, but i also realize thru evaluation and therapy he would maybe be able to endure or have a sleepover in the future.
I'm pretty sure your boy and my boy would be friends. :>) You mention many things that really are similar to my son for sure. And I also want to comment that you sound like a terrific mom that has worked hard to manage any quirks your son has and provide him opportunities to grow and overcome. That is really excellent. Not all kids are the same and when a parent realizes that, they have the best chance for success. So, good job!
I do have MANY things that we do for our sensory diet and am compiling a list. I'll get the list to you!! What is good to have is a few lists that include--- heavy work activities for overall sensory regulation (some things you can do have an after calming effect such as swimming that can last for a long while), activities that you do right before going somewhere that requires focus and good behavior, emergency things to do when one gets to hyped up for the occasion and needs to calm down, and things to do in small spaces like a classroom. I'm breaking it down that way.
I tell you, getting my son evaluated was the best thing that we could have done. I did go private and it was prior to entering our public school system. We've worked so hard on things, that my son does not have an IEP or 504 plan at this point. His teachers do know about his sensory because I tell them about it. It isn't so much of a label to me as a way to help others understand my child better. When they seem him standing when everyone else is sitting, they know why. And they can guide him accordingly. If his voice is too loud (we've got that problem too)--- again, they know why. So, to me, his school being aware of the challenges he works on has been helpful. If you do end up choosing to have him evaluated through the school system, any conclusions they come to are confidential. I always feel like kids who have this or that going on get a 'label' of some sort one way or another. Either a label of their disorder/diagnosis or a label of a 'difficult child'. I'd rather have a label that helps my son get the resources he needs. Just my opinion on that though. I'm proactive though, as I said, and let our teachers in on the full scope of my son's challenges.
I always remember that with SPD, he is working twice as hard as other kids to maintain himself to do the same thing. They deserve a lot of kudos, these kids.
I have lots of questions for you. Does he resist writing and any other fine motor activities (since you mentioned he doesn't like coloring)? Does he have better times of the day? Does he seem calmer after an activity like swimming?
He may crave deep pressure, hence the tackling. There is a list of things to do for that that I will put in a post. Ditto for that regarding my son. My son does play full tackle football and started last year at 7! The need for pressure may be part of the reason he likes that hug before bed to fall asleep. Lots of SP kids use weighted items for sleep.
First thing I will do is a list of activities for deep pressure that may help decrease the need for tackling. I'll put it in a post later today.
I'm so glad you found us as I said and hope you stick around. Oh, and great job instituting transitional warnings. That is great. Sounds like it worked out for you and a good way for the rest of us to handle it.
My son has visual function issues mainly, and some degree of vestibular (balance) issues and minor proprioceptive issues. I have him in two different sports, although they're not team oriented, but they do help his cravings for impact and excessive movement.
I have him in taekwondo, which is great for his self control and impulse control, and also a way for him to wind down if they do sparring and/or cardio punching bag drills.
He also rides horses, for which he has an amazing talent--almost prodigy-like. He rides English saddleseat and has for about a year. His balance and posture on a horse is superb. And the funny thing? He's 7½ years old and still can't ride a bicycle because his balance is just not yet developed enough. Go figure, lol. :-)
I'm telling you ---- these kids are awesome in their uniqueness! I love it AHP. Yes, they can be such mixed bags. My son has motor planning issues but can wiz a ball into the catchers glove amazingly well. He can be super far in the outfield and throw it into home plate with accuracy. His throwing arm is amazing. But he wouldn't hold a pencil for the longest time. LOL
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