Dysregulation affects how children (and their caregivers) interact with their environment and other individuals. Difficulty with sensory processing affects how many children process their environment and can present in various ways (increased energy, quickly moving throughout their environment, or slow, passive wandering with reduced energy). It is important to attempt to reach optimal arousal in order to encourage learning; this can be done by trying to assess a child’s arousal level and attempting to either increase their arousal by providing input or reducing their level of arousal by decelerating into a calm state. Start by asking yourself, “Can I adjust my own energy level to affect the child?”
Jessie Ginsburg, CCC-SLP provides strategies to alter states of arousal in an article published on ASHA.org. Here are some of the strategies that are suggested:
If a child has low arousal:
- Try novel activities. Sing a new song or play with a toy in a different way than you typically would, such as hiding Mr. Potato Head parts around the room and going on a search for them.
- Play games with unpredictable movement.
- Vary your speed during jumping, bouncing, spinning, or swinging.
- Provide strong input such as spinning, upside-down movement, or tickles.
If a child has high arousal: