OT Corner: Family TV Watching and Sensory Processing
By: Eileen Parker
NB: This article was originally written for parents. OTs who are helping parents adjust their child’s sensory environment may find this article useful to share with parents.
You can help your child with sensory processing disorder lower their stress level with some simple rules about family TV watching.
As a child and now an adult with autism and SPD, I know that TV can be stressful to the point of jumping, tears, anger, confusion, and other reactions. As an adult, I have learned to contain some of my reaction in front of others, but children don’t necessarily have that regulation built in yet. Also, while watching TV, I will start to feel upset. I often don’t realize what is bothering me early on, but I have learned to identify my own signs.
When my hubby and his kids are talking and watching sports, I have to leave the room, close the door, and go away because my aggravation from the sound continues to elevate until it boils.
A child may not know that they can leave the room to a quieter place. A family member may even tell the child to stay in that room or the TV may be audible throughout the house, so the child has no escape from the sound. With the noises from the TV, the child’s irritability can climb all day.
Here are some TV rules that could make your child’s life much more relaxed:
- No talking while the TV is on. More than one source of sound is not merely aggravating; it feels like a hurt in the brain.
- Mute the commercials. The sudden jarring sound of a blasting commercial bashing into the ears can make your child jump, sweat, breathe fast, or make sounds.
- If your TV has the capability, lower the treble. The higher register noises are more painful.
- Put the TV in an enclosed room and close the door so your child does not have to hear it.
- If you are not watching the TV, turn it off.
- Have your child look away from the screen during commercials so the fast-moving visual stimuli don’t make it worse.
- Turn the volume down.
- Learn to make TV more bearable for your child by doing a brushing protocol first. Your child can also lie under a weighted blanket while watching TV.
Featured Vendor: Cozy Calm
Eileen Parker has High-Functioning Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder and is happily in Sensory Integration Therapy. She sells Cozy Calm weighted blankets at http://www.CozyCalm.com. She lives with her family in Minneapolis.
Please support our contributing authors and visit Cozy Calm Eileen maybe reached at [email protected]
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