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Ilana Danneman
BY Ilana Danneman

7 Morning Sensory Tips for You and Your Child with Special Needs

The alarm rings…. brrrrrring….. or maybe its your favorite radio show waking you up. You roll out of bed to get ready for another week of routine including school, homework, after school activities and evening routines. The routine is great, but getting started each day can feel like pulling ten pounds of granite out the door. How can you get yourself and your kids re-energized each morning to start the day off right?

Here are a few tips to get those muscles moving and brain cells working right from the start of the day. These tips are written for your sensory seeking, sensory deprived or sensory sensitive kids, but feel free to try them out on yourself first!

1. Start with A Stretch

Before you get your kids up, get them to stretch! Legs out and arms up! Hold it for 10 seconds, take a deep breath and relax. Have your kids do this 2-3 times before rolling out of bed.

2. Wash Up

There is nothing like a good splash to the face and hands to alert the most sluggish of your clan. A good face and hand washing can just do the trick to alert and awaken all the facial muscles to talk, see, eat and communicate.

3. An Attitude of Gratitude

Before we get any further along, have your kids stop for some soul time. Show appreciation to waking up, having a body, having a place to live and so on. You can get a sheet of paper and every morning have your child another item to the gratitude list. You can use this time for meditation, yoga, prayer or reflection as well. Just 5 minutes is all it takes to rewire the thinking and start the day off on a positive note.

4. Hydrate

Have a glass of water before you go further. Good hydration is key to good brain activity and muscle work. You can look it up but getting in a glass of water before the day starts can have huge impact on the nervous system.

5. Crunchy breakfast

Now, they can eat! Try some granola or whole grain toast. For those who are gluten-free try some crunchy cereals. Add in some tangy fruits for a mouth watering sensory-oral experience. Remember, the mouth acts as a sensory filter, so give it a good workout each morning with a lot of chewing, crunching and biting.

6. Morning Workout

Swing, take out the garbage or offer your kids a homemade obstacle course before heading out to school. If your kids can walk or bike to school, even better. Heavy work in the morning can mean a more centered and engaged student throughout the rest of the day. When we connect our muscles with our minds we are more energized and organized.

7. Organization

Backpack: check; Lunch: check; Other tasks: Check. Have a visual list that is updated regularly so your child can see what they need to do each morning and what is coming up that afternoon. Be organized and offer your kids a wipe erase board or area where they can keep a list of “to-do’s each day.

Starting everyone’s day off with a sensory-friendly routine can make a difference between a happy productive day and a sluggish irritable day. Be flexible and change the routine every so often or add in different components when things get a bit dry. Make sure either way you attend to the body, brain, sensory system and the soul for a power packed day of productivity and contentment.

Ilana Danneman

Written on September 16, 2014 by:

Ilana Danneman is a pediatric physical therapist with over 25 years experience in the special needs field developing 100's of products, blogging, providing customer education, and catalog direction. She has worked for both School Specialty and Fun and Function and currently is a contract blogger and product developer as well as home health pediatric and geriatric physical therapist. She is currently the owner of the idea therapist and can be reached at [email protected]
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