Chores for Sensory Sensitive Kids
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I think we all understand the struggle to get our kids to help out around the house. They dread being asked to do chores, and let’s be honest, we usually dread having to ask. We know before we open our mouths that there is a 99.99% chance that we are going to be met with opposition and that is especially the case with those of us who have sensory sensitive kids at home. A cleaner that might make most kids wrinkle their nose a bit, the hum of the vacuum, or the texture of a cleaning rag can send a child with Sensory Processing Disorder over the edge, turning a simple request into a nightmare. Other common offenders are the scent of garbage, the textures of things like dryer sheets, paper towels, soap or scrubbers and the sounds from the lawn mower, weed-cutters, leaf blower or power tools.
Because of these sensitivities, it falls on us to figure out creative ways to teach them responsibility and the importance of helping out around the house that are specially tailored to their abilities. As we work to build a list of chores they can handle, we need to remember to start small. Helping them achieve little victories will help them build the motivation they need to accomplish bigger tasks. Chore charts that you can find here help them track and follow their progress toward those bigger tasks. And don’t forget, they still need to be taught how to clean. It doesn’t help an already overwhelmed brain to be put under the stress of being expected to perform a task it doesn’t know how to complete. So here are a few jobs you can tailor to your child’s needs.
Chores that Won’t Start Tantrums or Make their Skin Crawl
They may struggle dealing with dryer sheets or the coarse and odorous detergents, but soft clothes and towels tend to be a little easier to handle. It’s good for them to immerse themselves in textures that don’t set them on edge. And on top of that, the movement and thought behind matching corners and getting the hands working together boost brain activity and help with wiring the brain.
This is a great one because more than likely, they’re going to have to be your little shopping buddy anyway. Having them help you with it gives them a sense of responsibility over the task and will garner a lot more cooperation while you’re at the store. This is especially true if you include planning out the meals and making grocery lists beforehand a part of the chore. They can also be in charge of the list while they’re there and check things off as you go. It’s a good way for them to learn how much planning and effort goes into a task they probably haven’t given much thought to.
Clean the Clutter
Picking up the odds and ends around the house doesn’t usually require contact with odd smells or irritating sounds and the items around the house will usually vary enough in texture that there will be items that they will be able to hold without too many problems. Books, papers and old coupons are safe bets and are good ways to encourage sorting skills. Their own toys and messes around the house are also safe because they had to touch and encounter those items to leave them out in the first place.
Raking and Shoveling
If your child struggles with loud noises, these jobs can be done the old fashioned way. Those snow blowers and leaf blowers are handy tools, but they’re loud and overwhelming to kids with sound sensitivities. Using a snow shovel or a rake cuts those loud tools out. These jobs also put your child outside in the fresh air and active, using their bodies in a coordinated manner to build neural pathways. If you’re set on them learning to use the snow and leaf blower or any other loud machines such as the vacuum, noise canceling headphones or ear plugs can help them block out the sounds of the machines as well as any other background noises that could bother them. You may also find that they can handle the sounds better if they’re the ones making them. My daughter begs me to turn off the vacuum with her hands over her ears, but if she is the one manning the vacuum, she barely gives it a second thought.
For those kids that are lacking in sensory input, carrying around heavy objects like laundry baskets, grocery bags or wood to reorganize the woodpile in the back yard can be very fulfilling. It helps them channel their energy and learn to self-regulate. And what little kid doesn’t like showing off how big and strong they are?
Sweeping is another task that’s good for building neural pathways and coordination and it is great because they can sweep dirt and dust into a pile and onto the dustpan without ever having to touch it. This is also a job that can be assigned in a variety of places. Kitchens, bathrooms, porches, driveways and decks all need to be swept on a regular basis.
Chores with Gloves
Gloves can be a great tool. As long as you can find a pair of gloves that suits your child, this can open up a world of jobs for your sensory sensitive child. All those jobs they struggle with like washing dishes, pulling weeds, cleaning out a pet’s living space or litter box, or any other texture-based sensitivity can be worked around with gloves. They allow your child to grasp any object without being exposed to the texture that makes their skin crawl.
There are plenty of chores out there your sensory child can complete if you’re in tune with their needs and challenges, and working with them to find a regimen that works for them will help both of you develop creative problem solving skills.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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