Sensory Tools

How do we play? Tackling organizing and clean-up

It took me some time to realize that, for children with SPD, the simple act of play can be something that just isn’t fun. Let’s think about that for a second. For typically-developing children, it’s noisy, the toys get mixed up and tossed every which way-that pretty much sums up every toy room in a family house I’ve ever been to! There are the obvious pitfalls within behavior challenges and play: sharing, space boundaries, getting along with other playmates.

Today I was reminded of one major issue that kids with SPD face: organizing and clean-up.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve replayed the same scenario with my Sensational-Miss. “Ok, hunny, can you see that your room is a real mess, right?” Nods her head, yes. “Ok so how should we clean it up?” Shrugs shoulders, I don’t know.

Now I know her well enough to know that she’s genuinely not trying to pull the wool over my eyes to try to get out of it. She really doesn’t get it. She can see that the room is a mess, but has no ability to figure out the A-Z of how to clean it up.

So we start…”step 1: pick up clothes. Where do they go? Are they clean? Are they dirty?” Shrugs shoulders…I don’t know.

Continuing on…”step 2: pick up your big toys. Where should they go?” My eyes land on the toy box in her room. Shrugs shoulders…I don’t know.

The process continues in this painful way every single time the room is a mess.

I begin to notice that she is frustrated and unsure in other messes that require organization as well. Writing assignments for Homeschool, picking out clothes, our morning routine…the list goes on. Once again, I notice the same pattern: she sees the mess, and knows it needs cleaning up, but doesn’t know the process and the steps involved to organize her brain how to do it.

As I was reading more about SPD, I realized this was a common challenge for children with SPD. This is where Occupational Therapy comes in. OT helps children organize the brain through activity and physical exercises that challenge them. Will talk more about this later.

Getting back to organizing and clean up-I have found a wonderful tool for SPD kids that helps so much. It’s literally changed clean-up time and the inevitable meltdown that was sure to follow!

I found these bins that separate toys and knick-knacks into separate places. For children with SPD, every item needs to have a place. It helps them organize and also associate that bin with that toy. Labels are also a great idea here. For readers, use print. For non-verbal or pre-readers, you can use pictures on the bin to show what should go inside.

For the first time ever, I’ve now got my kids helping with clean-up. And I’m actually getting smiles doing it!

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