My dear friend’s son, Jackson, has a hard time communicating because he is fearful due to sensory overload. Sensory overload happens when one or more of the body’s senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment. This can occur from loud noises, bright lights, darkness, touch, and other stimuli.
There are certain kinds of therapy that can help with sensory overload. For example, “Sensory integration therapy, usually conducted by an occupational or physical therapist, is often recommended for children who have sensory processing disorder. It focuses on activities that challenge the child with sensory input. The therapist then helps the child respond appropriately to this sensory stimulus.”
How can you help a child or interact with a child that suffers from this ailment?
The answer is that it depends upon the child. In general, begin by trying to make eye contact with them or, if the child feels threatened, by trying to make indirect contact with them. Sit down beside them. Kneel down if necessary. Let them see and feel the care, compassion, and love shining through your eyes and through your actions. Speak in soft tones, exhibiting love in your voice.
Your words should center on the child. Find out what they like, what their interests are, and how you can meet their needs. Ask open-ended questions that will give them ample opportunity to respond.
Remember to speak positive, life-giving words. Today, kids hear so many negative words. Often, they’re told what they’re doing wrong more frequently than what they’re doing right. We need to praise them for what they do correctly instead of just scolding them for their mistakes. In addition, remember that kids at school have a tendency to engage in cruel name-calling, and memories like that can be burned into young minds that replay like a bad movie. Let’s help to replace those memories of cruel name-calling with loving name-calling. Tell the child, “Good job, John,” or “You are wonderful, John,” etc. Never underestimate the power words can have on a child for the rest of their life. Just a few encouraging, positive words from you can make all the difference in the world.
Show children you care through your actions. The best way to show love is by spending quality time with them. At times, the world is over-stimulating for adults, let alone little children.
When I see Jackson, I always approach him slowly and quietly. After about ten minutes, without fail, he always comes out of his shell. He still is easily bothered by noise, but thankfully, he is getting better through prayer and love!