Strategies for Sensory Challenges

Repetitive Behaviors: Detection and Intervention – An Example
Situation: 

My child has multiple diagnoses including ADHD, PDD NOS, and OCD. He has many self-calming behaviors and vocal tics in school. He may clear his throat and ‘zone out.’ He may keep his fingers crossed. These behaviors are concerning me. What can I do to decrease them?

Auditory Sensitivity Toolkit
Situation: 

My 7 year old is strangely tuned in to certain sounds. For example, if the pages of a book are being turned within hearing distance, he reacts by screaming at the offender to stop it. He is agitated by the noise to the point of having to leave the proximity so he doesn’t continue to fixate on it. When someone who has dry hands rubs them together and he can hear it, it gives him the “willies” and chills. Yesterday at a restaurant, I reached to pull a napkin out of a dispenser , and he reacted by slinking down in the booth saying, “Great! Thanks a lot –I just lost my appetite from you doing that.” He couldn’t finish his toasted cheese sandwich. Another example is that he reacts loudly when paper is being ripped or a sheet of paper is being torn from perforations in a spiral bound notebook. When my long fingernails scratch against him, or I scratch my own itch, it drives him crazy.

How can our family help minimize these seemingly over-the-top reactions to what seem like innocuous sounds–besides the obvious removal of known triggers? Should we be concerned?

The Chewing Child
Situation: 

My student chews anything he can.  He will chew anything that is on his desk like his pencil or eraser.  He chews on his shirt sometimes and often his fingernails.  What can I do to stop this behavior?

Positive Strategies for Picky Eaters
Situation: 

My life is a nightmare of feeding problems with my son. He will only eat potato chips or peanut butter packaged crackers. I’m worried about his health. If I offer something else and tell him he must eat it or he’ll get sick I have to deal with a full fledged tantrum! What can I do to stop this behavior?

Decreasing Self-Stimulatory Behavior
Situation: 

I have a student in my Multi-Disability Classroom who insists on flapping pieces of paper – he won’t go anywhere without the paper – if he doesn’t have a piece he will search in the trash cans or use his work papers. He is integrated into some classrooms and just uses the class papers to flap. What can I do to extinguish this behavior?

Brain Breaks
Situation: 

We have many double periods of math throughout the week. It makes it very difficult for some of my students to continue attending. What can I do to help them (and me) get through these times?

Break Card
Situation: 

How can I prevent a student from being non-compliant during groups or activities?

Replacement Behavior for Writing on the Wall
Situation: 

My 7 year old son, diagnosed with autism, is constantly writing or scratching on my walls with anything he can find, whether it’s a pen to write or one of his toys to scratch. He draws mostly bridges on my walls, but he does draw other things as well (things that interest him). I was thinking about painting a wall with dry erase paint and making it clear that it’s his wall to draw on to try to contain the drawling to one area. My questions are:  Could my idea work and if not how do I get him to stop drawing on my walls?

Solving Tooth Brushing Sensitivities
Situation: 

My child balks when it is time to brush his teeth.  I think he has sensitivity to brushing.  He cries and just turns away – what can I do?

Substitutions for Sensory Seeking Screams
Situation: 

My son is non-verbal.  Recently he has begun screaming.  This is not out of anger, but to hear his own voice.  It is quite loud and can be very distracting at home to his siblings and out in public.  I don’t want to discourage his trying to communicate, so am not sure how to handle it.