Did I Sign Up For This? – Part 3

In the third installment of this series, Amy Kendall, Saddleback Kids Disabilities Ministry Coordinator, will talk about the things we can do for these kids so they are successful in our classroom settings. It is our desire (and I am sure yours as well) that no child leaves our classrooms not knowing the Good News of Christ so sometimes we need to look at the best ways possible to teach this to children.

So now we have figured out what SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) looks like. But what do we do with these kids?

First thing to remember is to remind yourself and your volunteers that they are not failing when they cannot at first figure out these kids. More often than naught, you will have a leader who will not even tell you about these kids and will kill themselves trying to figure them out and in the process possibly burn themselves out. Allow for open dialogue in your ministry when a “problem” child arises and work together to figure it out.

Typically these are the types of things you will encounter when dealing with a child with SPD. Here are a few examples and some things to do.

1. Sally is in the classroom and keeps throwing all the toys off the table even when you have directed her not to. She is always hitting her friends and you cannot tell if it is because she’s angry at them of if it is just out of the blue.

WHAT TO DO:

Look to see if Sally is possibly seeking out input in her body by throwing and hitting. Make sure to let Sally know that it is not ok to throw things (remember not to tell her “no” because no does not tell her what she can do), but give her something that is similar that she can do. Having her sit quietly and reading a book is not similar. Have Sally join you on the floor to pretend we are playing drums…see who can be the loudest or the fastest at drumming. This will give Sally the input she is seeking, but in a positive way for the group.

2. During on the floor story time Johnny keeps wiggling around and getting up and moving around the classroom. You have asked Johnny to sit down and he does for a short period of time, but it just seems like he cannot sit still.

WHAT TO DO:

Children like this again are seeking out input that they cannot get just by sitting on the floor. Think about where you are sitting right now. Can you feel your legs or can you feel your legs better when you tap them on the floor? Our kids are like this sometimes also. A lot of our kids who come to church on Sunday morning have just rolled out of bed, eaten something and run to church. They have not had much time to move around and now we are asking them to sit once again. Some good suggestions are having a warm up time before we sit on the floor to listen to our story. Have the kids jump in place, stretch their bodies or do something else that gives them that input. Or remember to at least do this with Johnny before he sits down.

3. Your class goes to a time of Worship with other classes and sometimes it gets really loud with that many kids in one classroom. Matthew does great in class but during Worship time it gets loud, he covers his ears and starts to cry. After a few minutes he starts to run out of the class and says he just cannot handle it

WHAT TO DO:

Matthew is a child who cannot process auditory noises and to him the loud noises can be like fingernails on a chalk board. There are a few ways to handle this and it will depend on how many volunteers you have. If you are able to, move Matthew just outside the classroom so he can see what is going on, but is not in the mix of it all. If you cannot do this, make sure to prep him for when it is going to get loud so he is not caught off guard. If he needs to cover his ears or even give him foam ear plugs (get parental approval first), let him know that this is ok as well. Just make sure he feels comfortable in the situation and let him know you understand.

There are a lot of other examples that could arise, but these are some of the most common ones. Each child will present differently. Just remember they are not being defiant, but that the Lord created them this way. It is our job to make sure they are getting the gospel just like everyone else.

A few great resources to understand Sensory Processing Disorder better are:

 

Next week we talk about classroom management when dealing with children who need a little extra help.

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