Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support
Sensory Processing Disorder

Summer Struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder

Children with sensory differences ... painting the world beautiful.  

Summer Struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder

Jeanette Loftus 

Summer Struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support
Summer is a time to have fun outside in the sunshine making memories. Children who have sensory processing disorder (SPD) struggle with the change in their routine and the overwhelming sensory input that comes with summer. There are a lot of ideas to help your child enjoy their summer season.


Children with sensory processing disorder can find the humidity and bright sunlight challenging and it can cause them to have difficulties regulating their behavior and emotions. Summer activities such as swimming, water parks, and outdoor events can also present unique sensory challenges.

Children with sensory differences can be sensitive to the way their clothing feels on their skin, making it challenging to find comfortable summer clothes. Choose loose-fitting, lightweight, breathable fabrics for summer clothing so it doesn't cause them discomfort.

Choose seamless sensory friendly clothing for extra comfort. Avoid clothing that has tags, seams and labels that may irritate your child's skin. Ask your child to help pick out their own clothes and what they think is most comfortable for them.

Sunscreen is an important part of summer, but this can be challenging for children who have sensory differences. The sunscreen texture and smell can be overwhelming for the child. Ask your child to choose their own sunscreen and what feels and smells best to them. Choosing an unscented sunscreen could also be a better option for children who have sensory processing disorder.

Applying sunscreen can be difficult for a child with sensory differences. Ask them to apply using small amounts and then gradually increasing the amount as your child becomes more comfortable. Try making it fun for them or using a sunscreen applicator. Using a sunscreen stick or spray may be less overwhelming than traditional lotion for your child.

Sensory processing disorder can lead to difficulties in daily activities including swimming. Children who struggle with SPD may experience hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to sensory input such as water, sound, and touch, making swimming a challenging and overwhelming experience. Using different tools and sensory strategies, swimming can be a fun activity for children who have sensory differences.
 
Choosing the right swimming clothing can be so important for children who struggle with tactile sensory differences.
Children who struggle with sensory processing disorder may be sensitive to rough or tight-fitting fabric. Choose a swimsuit made with soft and stretchy materials that won’t irritate their skin or restrict their movements is so important.
 
Clothing tags and labels can cause discomfort for children with sensory processing. Look for swimsuits without tags.
Rash guards can provide additional coverage and protection from the sun and reduce the amount of water and sensory input that children with SPD may find overwhelming.
 
Children who have sensory differences may have different sensory needs so it’s important to try different styles to find what works best for them. Swimming can be an enjoyable activity for children who have sensory differences when they are using different beneficial sensory tools and strategies.
 
Gradually expose children with sensory processing disorder to the water to help them slowly adjust to the sensory input. Start with short periods of time and gradually increase the duration as they become more comfortable.
Try using some sensory tools such as earplugs, goggles or headphones to help your child reduce sensory input and provide a more comfortable swimming experience for them.
 
Deep breathing exercises can help children struggling with sensory processing to regulate their sensory input and reduce anxiety. Encourage children to take deep breaths before swimming. This will help them feel more calm and relaxed. Mindful breathing activities for children can be very calming. 
 
Make swimming a fun and enjoyable experience for the child who struggles with sensory differences. Include games and sensory activities that will keep them engaged and interested. Provide a quiet space that the child can go too if they are feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated while swimming.
 
Children who have sensory processing disorder may have many different challenges when it comes to swimming. Children with sensory challenges may be hypersensitive to water, find the water to be too cold, too wet or too overwhelming.
 
The sound of the water and other noises can be overwhelming for children with sensory differences while they are out swimming. The texture and feel of water or the sensation of being wet can be uncomfortable for children with sensory difficulties.
 
Provide a safe, calming, sensory-friendly swimming environment and children with sensory processing disorder can enjoy the benefits of swimming too.

Engaging in sensory activities can help children with sensory processing disorder regulate their sensory input and have fun too.

Water is a great sensory activity that is calming and stimulating. Consider setting up a water table, sprinkler, or slip n' slide for your child.

Sand is another great sensory activity that provides a sensory tactile experience. Try visiting a beach to play in the sand or setting up a sandbox for your child to explore at home. 
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DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links on my website.  Each of your purchases through links on my website for Amazon affiliation links or sponsored links support me but no additional cost to you so thank you. I appreciate it so much!