Carolyn Dalgliesh, founder of Systems for Sensory Kids, is thrilled to be doing a four-part guest blog series for 46 Mommas Shave for the Brave – The 46 Mommas are on a mission to raise awareness, raise funds for research and inspire others to help fund a cure for childhood cancer.  As a professional organizer and a “sensory” mom, Carolyn is honored to be a sponsor of 46 Mommas and to have an opportunity to support these amazing parents with sensory organizing tips!  For more about 46 Mommas, go to http://46mommas.com/

When you are supporting any sort of “sensory” child, like those living with ADHD/ADD, Anxiety Disorder, OCD, Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism, the ability to perform daily tasks can be impacted – both from a place of innate challenges as well as from secondary symptoms of anxiety and/or stress.  This is also true on a whole other level for families supporting children battling cancer.  The physical challenges the body is enduring, the side effects of medication, and the constant medical procedures can leave   these children navigating high levels of stress and anxiety impacting their ability to navigate daily life.

Whenever I am working with a family looking to support a “sensory” child or a child living with a medical challenge, I always suggest that parents create a visual map of their child’s current challenges.  Here are a few ways to help you identify immediate needs for your child:

  1. IDENTIFY BEHAVIORS: What secondary symptom(s) is your child living with as a result of their illness? Stress, Anxiety, Distractibility, or Executive Functioning Challenges?  What do these secondary symptoms look like for you child? For example, anxiety might present as withdrawn behavior in one child and defiant, rigid behavior in another child.
  2. TIMES AND TASKS:  What times of day / tasks are always hard for your child? List out all that you can think of and then take that list and prioritize in increasing order by the impact on your child’s day.  This will give you a concrete numbered list to help you make small changes that will have a big impact.
  3. DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOU:  What secondary symptoms are you living with as a result of supporting a child with an illness?  What tasks / times of day are hard for you? By taking some time to work on supporting yourself, you will be indirectly supporting your child.  When you feel stress, they feel stress and conversely, when you are calm, they are calm – the old trickle down effect.

When you sit down and become aware of where your child is right now and what needs support, you put yourself in an great position to gently and slowly support the challenges.  These concrete tools will help you and your child feel more in-control and grounded when living with overwhelming day-to-day experiences.  Simple supports for more peaceful days!

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