As many parents know, going out in public can be a stressful challenge for both you and your child with a sensory processing disability. Bright lights, loud noises, and strange smells can all be triggers that may cause your child to experience sensory overload in public. Although it is difficult to minimize exposure to these triggers, it is important to have a plan in place to handle sensory overload before it turns into a sensory meltdown. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to managing sensory overload in public with your child.
- Come prepared: Although you have little control over the sensory environment of public places, packing a few essential items may be able to help your child better cope with his or her surroundings. Bright fluorescent lights often found in grocery stores and other public places can be triggers for sensory overload in many children, but packing a pair of polarized sunglasses could help your child manage the artificial brightness. Loud noises in crowded places can also be a trigger of sensory overload; bringing noise canceling headphones or listening to soothing music can help your child handle the sensory stress.
- Have an escape route: Sometimes when your child is dealing with sensory overload in public, it’s best to take a moment to step outside, away from your current setting. While outside, your child will be in natural light and can escape the loud noise of a crowded room. This allows him or her to decompress from the situation.
- Know the triggers: Try to pay attention to what causes your child’s sensory overload. By identifying these risks, you can try to avoid certain places or environments. Knowing these triggers can help you take a proactive approach to better prepare your child and ensure you both have a more enjoyable experience!
At Tiny Tots Therapy, we help children enhance their sensory integration skills through home, school, and center-based services. Visit our website to learn more, or make an appointment with one of our passionate pediatric therapists.