Supporting a Child with SPD: 50 Tried and Tested Strategies

If you are supporting a child with sensory processing disorder (SPD), everyday environments can easily become overwhelming. With SPD, the brain has trouble receiving and responding appropriately to information from the senses. A child may become overstimulated by loud noises, crowds, bright lights, certain textures, or other sensory input that most people naturally filter out. This can lead to emotional dysregulation, anxiety, and meltdowns. When a child with SPD becomes overwhelmed, it is important to have strategies ready to help calm the nervous system. SPD in children always presents differently. Having a range of strategies to try is essential.

50 calming Strategies to Support a Child with SPD

Calming space for supporting a child with sensory processing disorder icy blue

Here is a list of 50 strategies used by parents and carers to provide effective support for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) when they are feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. Each one has been suggested by someone supporting children with a diagnosis in their family so no references or evidence base just simple ideas that have worked for others:

  1. Provide a quiet space with minimal stimuli
  2. Offer weighted blanket or lap pad
  3. Play calming music
  4. Offer chewing gum or crunchy snacks
  5. Go for a walk or jumping jacks
  6. Use a sound machine or noise-blocking headphones
  7. Offer fidget toys for hands or a Sensory First Aid Kit
  8. Dim the lights
  9. Speak slowly and softly
  10. Provide a break and allow them space
  11. Offer resistance bands
  12. Use essential oils or calming scents
  13. Offer an ice pack or something cold to eat
  14. Provide swinging or rocking opportunities
  15. Facilitate calming Lego activities
  16. Offer therapeutic putty to squeeze
  17. Provide a cozy tent or hiding space
  18. Provide access to outdoor spaces
  19. Offer joint compressions or compression tunnel.
  20. Provide visualisation activities
  21. Offer sensory bins with tactile resources
  22. Provide a vibrating toy
  23. Facilitate calm art activities
  24. Offer gentle touch or massage
  25. Validate feelings and be patient
  26. Remind them they are safe
  27. Provide deep pressure hugs
  28. Gently rub or scratch their back
  29. Provide jumping opportunities
  30. Offer sensory play with slime or beads
  31. Sit nearby quietly as they work through it
  32. Offer a drink of water with a straw
  33. Provide a bean bag or crash pad
  34. Offer a backpack or heavy bag
  35. Provide a weighted shoulder wrap
  36. Play or sing lullabies or nature sounds
  37. Encourage deep breaths
  38. Squeeze a tennis ball or hand strengthener
  39. Guide meditation or sound baths
  40. Use picture schedules to reduce cognitive load
  41. Provide white or yellow noise
  42. Encourage bouncing or jumping
  43. Provide co-regulation
  44. Avoid eye contact
  45. Provide a warm shower or bath
  46. Offer alternative focuses like jenga
  47. Hug tightly then release when ready
  48. Offer warming sensory input like a wheaty bag
  49. Sit nearby with arms open
  50. Keep verbal cues minimal


Supporting a child with sensory processing disorder requires compassion, patience, and consistency. By having a plan in place and utilising specialised sensory strategies, parents and caregivers can help children manage overwhelm and foster self-regulation skills. The key is tailoring the approach to the individual child’s needs.

1 thought on “Supporting a Child with SPD: 50 Tried and Tested Strategies”

  1. Pingback: Discussion about Sensory Processing Disorder and Behaviour - Special Education and Inclusive Learning

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: