By: Laura Petix, MS OTR/LEPISODE 76


In this short episode, we’re outlining the four steps (W.I.S.E.) to support our sensory sensitive children. To dig deeper into these four essential strategies, come to my free masterclass on Saturday, May 27, 5pm PST. Register here!

Episode Links

4 Steps to Supporting Your Child’s Sensory Sensitivities
Speaker 1 (00:02): Welcome to the Sensory Wise Solutions podcast for parents where parents can get real actionable strategies to support kids with sensory processing disorder. I'm Laura, OT and mom To Liliana, a sensory sensitive kid who inherited my anxiety and my love for all things Disney. Consider me your new OT mom, bestie....

Speaker 1 (00:02): Welcome to the Sensory Wise Solutions podcast for parents where parents can get real actionable strategies to support kids with sensory processing disorder. I’m Laura, OT and mom To Liliana, a sensory sensitive kid who inherited my anxiety and my love for all things Disney. Consider me your new OT mom, bestie. I know my stuff, but I also know what it’s really like in the trenches of parenting a child with sensory processing disorder. Speaker 2 (00:32): Okay, mom, enough about me. Let’s start the podcast. Speaker 3 (00:38): Hey everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. I am going to have a short and sweet episode for you today just highlighting my signature four step process that I used at home with Liliana when I had no access to a third party ot, just my own OT brain that I had when we were in thick of it and she was sensitive to clothes and she was sensitive to getting her skin messy and all of that stuff. If you haven’t heard our story yet, I would highly recommend checking out episodes one through four. But if you’re caught up or you just want to know what the process was like, what the sequence of steps was that I took to get her to where we are today, then that’s what today is all about. But before I get started, I wanted to remind you there is still time. (01:32)If you’re listening to this, the week before May 27th, then there’s still time for you to register for the free masterclass. This is your the Parenting a Sensory Sensitive Child Masterclass. It’s the free masterclass I host a few times a year and it’s very popular and people are always asking what? I’m going to host it again. So here we are. Here’s your chance. You can sign up at the ot, and it is going to be live this Saturday on Zoom at 5:00 PM Pacific Standard Time on May 27th. If you can’t make it live but you still register, you will get the recording to watch it for up to a week after the masterclass. So definitely head there. The link is going to be in my show notes, and that is a reminder that every time I host this free masterclass, it means that doors are opening to my signature program, the Sensory Wise Solutions Program for parents, which is what this podcast is named after, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about that today, but that’s going to be opening on May 27th. (02:37)So if you know, have a child who is sensitive to is more stressed around, tries to avoid or is fearful of some sensory triggers that are related to things like trying new foods, wearing certain clothes with fabric or seams or socks or shoes, and that’s becoming a battle for you. If they’re sensitive to hygiene tasks like taking a bath, washing their hair, brushing their teeth, brushing their hair, if they have a hard time around loud sounds or busy environments, and if they, let’s see, did I cover all of it? New foods, clothes, loud sounds, hygiene tasks and getting their hands or skin messy or sticky, then sensory. My solutions program might be for you. It’s where I help you find ways to regulate your child and practice through play around some of those things that are hard for them so that you actually have an actionable process for you to do at home as if you were your child’s own ot. (03:41)So let’s get into it. So I mentioned it is a four step process. This is the way that I planned things out for my daughter when I needed to make an intent, when it needed to have a more intentional approach to her challenges around sensory triggers. So the four step process I highlight with four letters, W I S E, and if that sounds familiar, yes, you guessed it. That is what spells out wise in sensory wise solutions. So there you have it. That’s the secret. So the first step is W, which stands for why? So understand why. The first thing you need to do when you have a child who is sensitive to something, if they are avoiding something, if they are continuously having meltdowns around something, figure out why is it too loud? Is it too bright? Is there too many things going on? (04:47)Are there internal things going on in their body that’s making them sensitive? Are they sensitive to the feeling of embarrassment? Are they sensitive to the feeling of hunger? Are they sensitive to what it feels like in their body when they first wake up? And that transition between sleep and wake is hard for you is the seams of the sock on their foot bothering them? So really, really understand why. And at first glance or when you first think about it, you might think that the reason is pretty obvious and you’re like, I already know why. It’s because they hate the sound of their sibling crying and so that’s why they have a hard time in the car. Yes, that could be a component, but I invite you to look even deeper, zoom out even more, not just the moment that they’re crying or having the meltdown or having the behavior, but zoom out. (05:41)How is the rest of their day? Were they bombarded by a lot of sounds earlier at school? Was there a new food that was on their plate and the taste of that completely overwhelmed them? And so now they’re dysregulated and their siblings cries are even more intense for them. You have to really start thinking about all of the sensory components and all of the environments, not just the particular activity or environment that they are currently in. So step one, why look at why your child is melting down. Examine the environment and figure out what the specific sensory trigger is if you can find one. Now, the second step is identify. So this is the for identifying. This is where you’re going to identify the functional task that your child’s behavior is impacting them in, and you’re going to identify their baseline level, where they’re currently at and their goal where you would like them to go. (06:48)So for example, identifying the functional task. So in step one, we’re understanding why my child is having meltdowns in the morning. What is the ide? Is the functional task that they’re impacted in. So maybe it’s getting dressed in the morning is really hard and we’re spending 45 minutes just putting socks and shoes on to get out the door. That would be the functional task. My goal for my child would be, can we get their socks on shoe and shoes on with less stress for the entire family? Maybe instead of 45 minutes, can we get it down to 20 minutes? Can we get it down to 15 minutes? Is there a way that I could help support my child’s regulation around this task? So instead of melting down for that long, we can try different strategies in the moment to help them feel more comfortable around it. (07:36)So that’s what it looks like to identify the functional task and their goals. And then you want to identify their baseline. So when we’re thinking about their goals and their baseline levels, meaning what they can currently do, now I want you to imagine it like a ladder. So the top of the ladder is where you’re trying to get your child to get to, right? So I said I would like to get my child out of the door wearing socks and shoes without having a 45 minute meltdown. And let’s say their current baseline level is when we put socks and shoes on, it takes about 40 to 45 minutes of having really big meltdowns and aggression around it, and that’s currently where they’re at. So that is step two because this is going to give you sort of the roadmap and help you frame where you’re trying to go. (08:26)And you might do this for every challenge that you have, or you might just start with one that’s most impactful to your daily life. Then step three s, this is the S step, which stands for solidify your sensory toolbox. So this is exactly what it sounds like. We all have a certain set of strategies and sensory regulation tools that help our nervous system feel regulated, and it is specific to each person, specific to each child. So you need to kind of go through this trial and error process of figuring out what sensory strategies work for your child, not only during a meltdown, but also outside of a meltdown to hopefully curb some of those meltdowns to begin with. Hopefully get their nervous system down to a state of regulation that’s more manageable day-to-day and moment to moment. So again, this is kind of a trial and error process. (09:24)You can’t really be afraid to make mistakes here. The best thing you can do is look for some sensory strategies that you think might resonate for your child and their particular sensory profile and see what helps regulate them and try to find ways to offer those things throughout the day at different times of the day and different times of the week, and maybe you increase the amount that you offer that around environments or contexts that are going to be triggering for them. So we did w I and S. So that leaves e e stands for engage in the just Right challenge. So the just right challenge is when you are offering an activity or a context or a task that meets your child where they’re at, but offers a slightly advanced level above that just to sort of stretch and get them flexible with being around something that feels new to them. (10:23)We are not forcing them to do something that feels uncomfortable for them. We are offering it as an opportunity for them to explore and get a little bit out of their comfort zone, but we want them to stay in a state of regulation. So again, that’s why that depends on the S part of this step of the Solidifier sensory toolbox. Ideally, before you do this, engage in the just Right challenge. You have already figured out some sensory strategies that support your child. Now remember that ladder that I talked about in step two in I where the top of the ladder is the goal. The bottom of the ladder is your baseline. All of the little steps of the ladder that go in between, that’s the just right challenge. That’s when you’re filling that in with little baby steps that would help you accomplish your goal with your child. (11:12)But here’s the important part. I already said you’re not going to force them to engage in something that’s not comfortable, but how do you get them to the next step? How do you get them move? Moving up on the ladder, you do this through play, so you have to be creative in coming up with different ways to play and playfully practice some of the steps that you need to get to get the top of the ladder. And this is going to look different again, per child, per age, per cognitive ability and per interest. You want to make it interesting to them. So you have to be a little bit creative in how you offer those activities to them. And then after you do that, you kind of just repeat steps two through four for every goal or every behavior or challenge that’s coming up for you. (12:01)As long as you keep in mind that all of this is intending and we’re wanting to align with a neurodiverse affirmative approach. Meaning our goal is not to make your child be more neurotypical. We are not trying to change their behaviors for our convenience. We are wanting to support the brain that they have, enhance the skills that they have, and build their confidence and self-advocacy and teach them how to regulate. That is the goal for all of this. And a byproduct of that is hopefully that your day-to-day tasks and the challenges that were impacted in your child to begin with are now more, are less impactful on your day and are more tolerable and able, and you are more confident in supporting your child through that. So those are the four step process. That is the w i s and E that you see in sensory wide solutions, and I’m going to go more in depth on those and give you more examples, tangible examples, and how you can apply that at home when you come to the Free Masterclass on Saturday, May 27th, 5:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. Again recording will be sent out. So make sure you slash masterclass. Link will be below. All right, I’ll talk to you guys soon. Speaker 1 (13:19): If you enjoyed this podcast, Speaker 3 (13:21): Please consider rating it and leaving a review, which helps Speaker 1 (13:24): Other parents find me as well. Want to learn more from me. I share tons more over on Instagram at the OT Butterfly. See you next time.




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Laura Petix, MS OTR/L

I’m an enneagram 6, so my brain is constantly moving. My OT lenses never turn off and I can’t “un-see” the sensory and other developmental skills that go in to literally every activity. I love taking what I see and breaking it down into simple terms so parents can understand what goes into their child’s behavior and skills.

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