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Auditory Strategies on the 4th of July

BOOM! Auditory Strategies to Make this Independence Day Fun for your Auditorily Sensitive Child

In our previous Independence Day themed blog, we discussed sensory strategies to address visual concerns around the holiday. Remember that the Fourth of July provides as much auditory stimulation as it does visual.

Remember, sensory over-responsivity, or sensory defensiveness, occurs when a child (or adult) is presented withAuditory Strategies for the 4th of July sensory stimuli is not processed within the brain efficiently. This can cause sensory stimuli to feel painful or threatening, leading to a heightened “fight or flight” response.

Auditory over-responsivity is a heightened response to auditory stimuli, leading to an avoidance or fear of certain sounds. Children who experience hypersensitivities to sound will often cover their ears or cry.

Independence Day, in particular, is a day filled with more auditory stimuli than most other days. When preparing your family plans this July, keep these suggestions in mind for your child with auditory sensitivities.

How to Help Your Child with Auditory Sensitivities this 4th of July:

  • When arriving to the venue, find a designated “quiet area” to retreat to, should you need it. Introduce your child to this space prior to the beginning of the festivities and make sure that he/she is aware that it can be accessed at any time!
  • Keep noise canceling headphones or ear plugs at hand. Trial these prior to Independence Day to ensure that your child is comfortable wearing them.
  • Provide plenty of calming input, via deep pressure and heavy work, to your child prior to and throughout the day. The deep pressure will provide “grounding” input to their body, allowing them to better integrate sensory input in other forms.


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

visual strategies

FLASH! Visual Strategies to Make this Independence Day Fun for your Visually Sensitive Child

Independence Day is a holiday filled with picnics, parades, and fireworks. While many celebrate this day by coming together with friends and family in a hubbub of joy, anticipating a day filled with food and laughter, families with special needs children find the holiday to be a challenge.

Sensory Over-Responsivity (Sensory Defensiveness):

Sensory over-responsivity, or sensory defensiveness, occurs when a child (or adult) is presented
fireworks2Portrait with sensory stimuli that cannot be processed in a timely manner. This means that the brain and its sensory receptors is having difficulty in translating sensory stimuli into functional responses. This can cause sensory stimuli to feel painful or threatening, leading to a heightened “fight or flight” response.

Visual Over-Responsivity:

Visual over-responsivity, specifically, is characterized by hypersensitivity to visual stimuli, whether it be light, color or frequency of movement. Children with visual hypersensitivities may present with difficulty in visually attending to some stimuli, hyper-attentiveness to some stimuli, an increase of “coping strategies” when placed in a busy environment (i.e., chewing, moving their bodies, or hiding), or avoidance of light, natural or artificial.

The Fourth of July provides visual stimuli within each of these realms. Here are a few strategies to utilize this summer:

  • Prepare your child for the day by providing the child with information regarding what to expect. Have a conversation of what colors they will see and how bright it can be.
  • Create a game of “eye-spy” within the days activities: talk about what you may see throughout the day and have your child focus their gaze to search for specific items (i.e., how many flags are in the parade? How many blue fireworks do you see?).
  • Have sunglasses or dark lenses handy– they can be worn during the day or during the fireworks show.
  • Provide deep pressure and heavy work input to the body prior to and during visually stimulating activities.


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder: Tactile System

The tactile system, or sense of touch, refers to the information we receive though the receptors in our skin. It alerts us to pain and temperature and helps us discriminate the properties of things we come in contact with, i.e. texture, shape, size, and weight. From very early on in development this sense plays a crucial role in helping us gain awareness of our own bodies and understand everything we come in contact with. Touch is considered one of our most basic senses since body awareness, motor planning, visual perception, and social/emotional development are so dependent on it.

 The Tactile System:

There are general patterns to how different types of touch affect us. Short, light touch, like the tickle of a feather or anSPD Tactile ant crawling on your skin can cause alertness such as a quickened heart rate and an immediate need for response. On the other hand a prolonged, deep pressure, such as a hug, is generally calming and can provide a sense of security. But what happens when a person’s tactile system is over or under responsive to touch? What would happen if an affectionate caress caused irritation or panic, or if objects always seemed to drop from your hands as soon as your attention moved elsewhere? Just imagine how stressful it would be to live in a constant fight or flight state because so many day to day events caused physical discomfort. And how frustrating it must be to learn new skills when you can’t adequately feel the objects you’re using!

Red flags that your child may be experiencing difficulties with tactile processing include:

  • Becoming overly upset about having his hair washed, brushed or cut
  • Having his nails cut, or teeth brushed
  • Avoiding or overreacting to touch from others, particularly when it’s unexpected
  • Showing irritation over tags or particular types of clothing such as jerseys or jeans
  • Isolating themselves from groups or preferring to play alone
  • Over sensitivity to temperature or decreased awareness of extreme temperatures
  • Over or under reactive to pain
  • Frequently dropping objects out of his hands or using inappropriate force on objects such as squeezing his pencil too hard or crumpling his papers
  • Having difficulty with, or being frustrated by, fine motor tasks such as drawing/writing, cutting, zipping, buttoning, tying laces, etc.
  • Being a picky eater or showing a strong preference for specific textures/types of food
  • Anxiety over standing in line or being in crowds
  • Disliking socks and shoes or alternatively, avoiding walking barefoot, especially on textures such as grass or sand
  • Seeking out deep pressure rather than light touch
  • Preferring tight clothing rather than loose-fitting garments that may rub on skin
  • Insisting on pants and long sleeves even in hot weather, or very little clothing even in cold weather
  • Avoiding or overreacting to wet or messy textures
  • Not noticing a messy face or hands

A general rule of thumb for these kids is to engage in deep pressure or heavy work activities often, as this is the most organizing and grounding form of touch. If these sound like things your child is struggling with, consult with an occupational therapist to get a clearer profile of his sensory needs. Your OT can help you gain a better understanding of why your child exhibits certain behaviors and create an individualized plan to make him more comfortable in his own skin!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!