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Managing Your Child’s Sensory Sensitivities

As a parent of an autistic child, navigating your child’s sensory sensitivities can be challenging. Sensory processing disorder (SPD) affects many children, and it can be hard to understand what your child is feeling or experiencing. Here are a few tips to help you manage your child’s sensory sensitivities:

Identify Your Child’s Triggers

Every child has a unique sensory profile, and understanding your child’s specific sensitivities is the first step in managing them. The first step in managing your child’s sensory sensitivities is understanding what triggers them. Observe your child and take note of what situations or environments seem to cause a negative reaction. Pay attention to their responses to different sensory stimuli, such as loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures. This could be anything from loud noises to bright lights to certain textures. Once you have identified your child’s triggers, you can begin to plan and prepare for these situations.

Create a Calm Environment

If you know that a particular situation or environment will trigger your child’s sensory sensitivities, try to create a calm and quiet environment where your child can retreat when feeling overwhelmed. Use soft lighting, minimize background noise, and provide comfortable seating options. Consider using noise-canceling headphones or ear defenders to reduce auditory input. This could mean turning down the lights or playing soothing music. You can also bring items your child finds comforting, such as a favorite toy or blanket. This way, you can help your child feel more at ease and reduce sensory overload.

Develop Coping Strategies

Your child may not always be able to avoid situations that trigger their sensory sensitivities, so it’s important to develop coping strategies. Teach your child sensory coping strategies to manage their sensitivities. Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, or sensory breaks can help them regulate their sensory input. Encourage the use of sensory tools, such as fidget toys, weighted blankets, or chewable jewelry, to provide sensory input and promote self-calming. Work with your child to find strategies that work best for them.

Gradual Exposure and Desensitization

Gradual exposure and desensitization can help your child become more comfortable with sensory stimuli that trigger sensitivities. Start with small manageable exposures to the sensory and triggers gradually increase the intensity or duration over time. For example, if your child is sensitive to certain textures, introduce them to similar textures in a controlled and supportive manner. Celebrate their progress and provide positive reinforcement to build their confidence.

Communicate with Others

Communicating your child’s sensory sensitivities with others, such as teachers or caregivers, can be helpful. This will help them understand your child’s needs and make accommodations as necessary.


Managing your child’s sensory sensitivities can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support, you can help your child thrive. Remember to identify your child’s triggers, create a calm environment, develop coping strategies, and communicate with others. With time and patience, you can help your child navigate their sensory processing disorder and live a happy and fulfilling life.

More information and resources

You can learn more about early signs of the spectrum disorder and how to understand what it will mean for you and your family here: