Sensory Processing Issues and The Morning Routine

Sensory Processing DisorderSequence, lace and bows make little girl clothes cute and adorable. For the little girls with sensory processing issues, cute and adorable becomes a nightmare. It’s scratchy. It burns. It irritates.

Sensory processing issues was a new term we learned when our daughter’s conditions were finally diagnosed. Her conditions include a lengthy list with sensory processing issues plus developmental delays and intellectual disability.

Sensory processing refers to the way the brain receives messages from the senses and turns them into the appropriate motor and behavioral responses.

The issues occur when the signals are either not detected or don’t get organized into appropriate responses. And that’s where our scratchy comes in. The list of things that can trigger her episodes include clothes, hair in her face, hot food or weather, crowds, loud noises and more. We’re getting better at understanding what triggers the overload and we try to work around those triggers every day.

Getting dressed for school seems easy enough, but when scratchy is back, the morning routine can turn into a meltdown tantrum. We usually hear those words, “It’s scratchy!” many times in one morning. Below is a list of ways we’ve learned to help avoid the scratchy meltdown.

  • We buy clothes for comfort instead of cuteness. Luckily a lot of cute clothes are functional these days.
  • We cut the tags or buy clothes without tags.
  • We pick out clothes together each morning so she can help herself get dressed.
  • We use tank tops, a lot. They act as an undershirt that prevents the scratchy, poking feeling.
  • We use tanks tops and light shorts under dresses. Dresses are cute but have a lot of elastic and other materials that irritate.
  • We make sure socks don’t have bulky threads or seams. Sometimes she’ll wear socks inside out because it’s more comfortable.
  • We make sure shoes, shorts, shirts or dresses aren’t too tight. That’s not a scratchy issue, but can trigger a scratchy meltdown, especially during the morning routine.

Occupational therapy is a sensory-rich approach that helps challenge our daughter with fun yet structured activities. She loves school and her IEP includes occupational therapy. At home, we play sensory-rich activities like:

  • Kinetic sand
  • Sensory calming sparkle bottles (fun to make!)
  • Coloring
  • Cutting papers
  • Painting
  • Shaving cream play – can be done in a tray or during bath time
  • Cotton balls in a bowl
  • Tea party and restaurant time (with the plastic play food)
  • Watering plants around the house or outside

I’m a full-time working mom so we’re not constantly playing these games and practicing these activities. We have a supply in the closet which makes it easy to play for a little while after work or on the weekends. Every little bit helps!

Are you working your way through the sensory processing issues world? Would love to hear what you do to keep the calm in the daily routine.



More sensory play ideas at Learning 4 Kids
Learn about Sensory Processing Issues at

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