As the weather is (finally) starting to get a bit cooler, it is a simple reminder that football season in upon us. Whether your little fan is going to watch big brother play in the pee-wee league, or joining the family for all-day tail-gating for the Razorbacks, here are a few simple tips to help make the experience a fun one.
1. BRING SNACKS! This will prevent you and your child from crawling through a bleacher full of fans to the concession stands. Include a variety of healthy snacks which will help provide calming sensory input (think sour, cinnamon, mint, biting, crunching) as well as a water bottle for additional oral input. Avoid too much sugar which will make your child restless. Keeping ahead of a rumbly tummy will also help to keep tantrums at bay.
2. Use a hoodie pulled over his head, bring ear plugs, or use head phones. Many of our children are defensive toward sounds and this can help prevent the sudden “fight or flight” response which may occur when the crowd suddenly cheers as your team scores a touchdown!
3. Take frequent walking breaks every 15-20 minutes. This will provide necessary proprioceptive and vestibular input and will help prevent “ants in the pants”. It is a good idea to use these breaks to walk to the bathroom to prevent accidents.
4. Bring other activities. Yes, the game is exciting, but not every child has a 2-4 hour attention span for these things. Bring books, hand held games, or download enticing APPS to your phone.
5. Create a specific space for your child. Seat cushions are a wonderful way to be very concrete in saying “Johnny, keep your bottom HERE”. It also provides a safety net for children with tactile sensitivities so that they will know that no one will be invading THEIR space. In addition, the squishiness of the cushion will allow your child to get his wiggles out while continuing to sit in one space.
REMEMBER…SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR CHILD AND HAVE AN EXIT PLAN! WPS!!!