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It's tough enough to fly with kids - but being with kids who have sensory processing disorder is even more difficult.  Below are some tips to help.
  1. Bring noise canceling headphones.
  2. Make sure your child has slept and is well fed prior to the flight so he or she is regulated.
  3. Be prepared with food and water during the flight, especially if the flight is long.
  4. Bring a heavy object to help calm your child.  Examples include a book, laptop, or a weighted blanket or vest.
  5. Try to schedule your flight during nap time or at night if your child is able to sleep comfortably on planes.  If the flight is during the day, try and have your child run around and use his or her energy before the flight.
  6. Gum chewing or sucking on a lollipop may be helpful to help regulate your child.
  7. Have activities ready for the plane. It can be a good time to practice fine motor skills.
  8. Create a visual schedule for your child.  Include everything from driving to the airport, waiting in the terminal, taking off, eating snacks to landing and  getting luggage.  This way your child will be prepared and feel less anxious about what to expect.
This is a great video on sensory processing disorder from the perspective of a child.  Very interesting - and what an articulate kid.  
Great article from the on what to look for if you suspect someone with SPD.


There can be so much to pay attention to and be aware of as we are raising our children. Often we know when something is serious and warrants our attention. What do you do when the challenges you see in your child are more subtle? One diagnosis that can be missed or misdiagnosed in children in Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD impacts our ability to take the information we receive from our senses and use it to respond in an appropriate way. To help you understand Sensory Processing Disorder, here are five main criteria: 

Inappropriate responses to sensory information
Children with SPD can be over-responsive (sensitive), or under-responsive (non-reactive) to information they receive from their senses such as touch, taste, sounds, movement, or smell. Some examples of a sensory-sensitive child might include picky eating, avoids playground equipment like the swing or slide, and very sensitive to noises Some examples of a sensory under-responsive child include a need to crash/jump into things, excessive need to touch things, high-activity level and may seem clumsy. 

Challenges with emotional regulation
Children with SPD can also experience challenges with emotional regulation, which is the body's ability to monitor and regulate responses to everyday experiences. They might have a hard time consoling themselves when upset, be prone to longer and more intense tantrums, get overly excited or not excited enough, may have a very high or very low activity level, or might have a hard time settling down at bedtime. 

Difficulty with transitions
Children with SPD have challenges absorbing information from their environment. This means that anytime the environment changes or shifts in anyway, it will an overwhelming experience for the sensory child. There are many transitions every day like getting dressed, going to school, moving into different sections of learning at school, transitioning from school to home, play time to homework time or dinnertime, and transition to bedtime. 

Delays reaching developmental milestones
Children with SPD often have delays reaching some developmental milestones. Some developmental delays include speech and language, gross or fine motor skills, social development delays, or challenges with attention and focus for their age. 

Social challenges
Many kids with SPD experiences some challenges socially. Kids with SPD may play alone when with big groups of children or be loud and overbearing in social situations, may misread a social cue and act inappropriately, or may have have a hard time with normal back-in-forth exchanges with peers. 

If you are concerned that your child is showing some signs of Sensory Processing Disorder, talk to your pediatrician about getting a referral to a Developmental Pediatrician or to Early Intervention for an evaluation. Thankfully, there is so much you can do to support sensory development for your child. Common supports include speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skill classes--all tools that will help your sensory child learn how to effectively process sensory information and thrive in their daily lives. 
Ten Fundamental Facts About SPD

  • Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children and adults.
  • Parent surveys, clinical assessments, and laboratory protocols exist to identify children with SPD.
  • At least one in twenty people in the general population may be affected by SPD.
  • In children who are gifted and those with ADHD, Autism, and fragile X syndrome, the prevalence of SPD is much higher than in the general population.
  • Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children who are typically developing.
  • Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children with ADHD.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder has unique sensory symptoms that are not explained by other known disorders.
  • Heredity may be one cause of the disorder.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are not functioning typically in children with SPD.
  • Preliminary research data support decades of anecdotal evidence that occupational therapy is an effective intervention for treating the symptoms of SPD.
– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD ) p. 249-250 by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR