Thursday, February 21, 2013

Taking My Sensory/High-Strung Child Out Socially Q & A : Where do I take them?

I really appreciate you offering your support and advice. I have a question for you: I want to take my son out to experience things outside of the home but that usually leads to over stimulation and results in a tantrum. I took him to Elmo live a few weeks back and he liked it but I could observe him struggling with the loudness of the live event and the lights and even the opportunity to touch the charters was very scary for him. Then I took him to an arcade ( Dave and Busters) which he loved but when it was time to leave he went into a violent tantrum which almost became dangerous in the parking lot!!
He is a very active and curious child so I do not want to keep him restricted to our home our and/or back yard but I do not want to overwhelm him either. A few years back he was enrolled at My Gym but he became too active over stimulated to the point where the in door play area became too small for him because he became a danger to himself and others by not being able to calm down and acknowledge dangers, like not running across the room when children are swinging.
I would like to take him to Sesame Place and the Sou cl Circus this spring but I am not sure. Where have you  taken your boys to for out and enjoy family fun and activities? 
Thank you,
 Mom who cares

Hi Mom, 

 Your son reminds me of my children.  I have twin boys, one hyper-sensitive, the other hypo-sensitive.  Both became over stimulated easily for different reasons.  To be honest with you, it sounds like your son is not ready for these types of venues. I as well tried my gym and for the same reasons, it did not go well.   My kids are now seven, and it is only now after 2yrs of a lot of hard work along with natural maturity that they would be able to manage things like  plays, organized sports  and loud flashy places.  Instead, I choose places that would be more suitable to their nature's. Places that did not require too much structure.  While peers of their own age were hitting  maturity milestones and better able  to handle sitting, waiting, and instruction, my kids just were not.  I had to accept that.  

 Swimming for example is a great place for kids with high-strung temperaments and sensory issues.  The water allows them to move about quite a bit as well as it slows them down and burns off allot of that energy.  Do you have a kohl's children's museum?  The inflatable jumpy places worked very well.  Not too loud, they are usually in warehouses that absorb sound and all the kids are running and jumping so your child should not stand out too much.  If it is not below zero, get him outside as much as possible.  The cold won't hurt him. No reason not to go the the park.  Sledding was great because again, that walk up the hill caused them to slow down and again a great energy burn. The zoo is another great to run, educational, and open in the cold months.  When I picked places, my criteria was not too loud, not too flashy, not too much restriction or structure....Get on the Internet and find these kinds of places.  As a mom with sensory/high-strung kids, I at times felt disappointed that my choices were limited, and frequented the same four places over and over.  However, that being said, it is what it is so rather then just stay home, that's what I did.

  To this day, I ALWAYS give my kids a 5 to 10 minute heads up as to when we are leaving.  Even if your child does not understand time yet, the heads up might allow him to process the fact that his fun is coming to an end.  These kids have a difficult time with "stop" and "starts". Its a brain shift/maturity things.  Even if it does not work at first, keep trying.  It should eventually work.  

     Your child will get though this.  There will be a day that you are doing plays, movies, organized sports and so on. I remember being worried that my children were not receiving enough cultural or educational input  because of  our limited social choices.  It was to my great surprise that when my kids started Kindergarten one of their teachers told me that while they were a little behind in some of the academics, my kids were the "worldliest" kids in the classroom and she could tell that I did not just sit my kids in front of the TV.  She said "they know about everything!".  My point?  You yourself said that your son is curious...You would be surprised what he will pick up and learn from finding rabbit holes at the park, watching the construction workers build a road, ask you why the toilet is not working at McDonalds.  Your child will soak up the world and learn no matter where you take him.

 Meet him where he is. You and your child's outings will be more successful.

 One last thought, even though the places you pick will be more suited to his temperament, my kids still at times struggled.  Getting over-stimulated and a bit too rough with other children.....Mom's JUST loved coming up to me to tell me just how "out of control" or "evil" my children were.  I found that smiling patiently and giving them a well rehearsed 15 second explanation worked well.  (trust me, I was less then pleased to have to justify myself to others) But the reality is that others don't know you or your child and they will jump to the worst conclusion. Don't let this discourage you.   Truly, 9 out of 10 people understood. I hated having to do this, but it came with the territory.  

     I hope this helped.  I have worked so hard with my kids.  I have been fortunate to see the results pay off and share with other parents.  Anytime you have a question please feel free to email me. 


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