Talking to Family Members about your Child’s Sensory Processing Disorder

Talking to Family Members about your Child’s Sensory Processing Disorder

Erin Burt

I recently entered a new club: Moms of children with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Since then, I’ve become a Mom Obsessed. Googling, researching, reading… tirelessly searching for each and every detail to help me become more familiar with my own child.

I’ve heard it said on a parenting podcast that we can either be our child’s advocate or their adversary. This, as with most things, varies from situation to situation. Sometimes being an advocate looks like letting them fail to learn a lesson and sometimes it looks like protecting them. I feel as if I am getting to know my child all over again. So many decisions I have made I find myself regretting, uncertain of how to move forward or if anything I do is the right choice for my child’s needs.

All that to say, I am learning what it looks like to advocate for your child when they have sensory processing disorder. And, while I am more than willing to do my due diligence to educate myself on ways to help my child navigate the day to day and learn how to better cope in stressful situations, not everyone in our lives has been quite so understanding. So, advocating for my child has looked like a million conversations with, often times, the same people over and over. In an attempt to be gracious and patient with some extended family members, here are a few things we have been advised to do:

  1. Keep it simple. My tendency is to send lists of books and links to articles to justify why my child can’t participate in a cousin’s wedding ceremony. But, information overload is a thing. Most people won’t be able to take it all in.
  2. Keep it on a need-to-know basis. It isn’t necessary to explain my child’s meltdown to everyone within earshot. Not everyone at the football game needs to know why my child is wearing noise-canceling earmuffs. Grandparents? Sure.
  3. You can’t win ‘em all. More than one family member has been sure to let us know that sensory issues didn’t exist when they were younger and it’s a way for us to coddle our child. Thanks for your opinion!
  4. Be patient. I have had to resist the temptation to get easily frustrated with loved ones when they repeatedly question the diet our child is on or the events we choose to skip. Just as we are learning as we go, they are learning, too, and from a distance. It takes time.

At the end of the day, you’re the parent and you know what’s best for your child. Trust your instincts, mom.

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at

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