A Mom's Journey Navigating her Child's Sensory Needs

February 11, 2022

A Mom's Journey Navigating her Child's Sensory Needs

They say it takes a village, and Coco Moon is so lucky to have a virtual village of amazing parents, friends, and caregivers that support each other, share their experiences and learnings, and do so all with aloha.

We wanted to take the time to share the story of a mom who has been a part of the Coco-mmunity since the beginning! We interviewed Lauren Fiddler, mom of three beautiful babies and middle school teacher. She is a long time Coco Moon supporter and someone we are tremendously grateful to have as a part of our Coco Moon ‘ohana.

Her middle son, Brooks, has a range of sensory needs that Lauren and her family navigate on a daily basis. We wanted to learn more about her family and share her experience with our readers, to hopefully lend some advice to other moms who may have a similar family dynamic. Keep reading to learn more about Lauren and Brooks!

You had previously mentioned that your son has sensory needs. Can you share a little more about him and his sensory needs?

“My middle son, Brooks, has a bunch of different sensory needs. Ranging from oral, to needing a lot of input — like deep-pressure input — or crashing. And he is completely non-verbal so it took us a long time, and we’re still navigating through the process, to figure out what he likes, what works for him, and what helps regulate him. For about 3.5 years (he’s 4.5 now!), we couldn’t get him to sleep unless we strapped him into his stroller. He liked that compression and security around him that came with being in a stroller, but he was getting really old, and kind of big for his stroller, and we were really worried about what the next steps were. That’s when we discovered the Coco Moon quilts. They were the perfect weight but still breathable and soft, and actually that’s what helped us transition him to be able to fall asleep on the couch or on his little bed. So we will put Coco Moon quilt blankets over him and he’s really cute about it! He’ll settle and ask for his blanket as he pulls it up because he knows that’s what immediately calms him down.”

What are some things you've found that have helped you, your son, and your family as you've learned more about his needs?

“We’re probably going to be learning for the rest of our lives. It’s a lot of trial and error, and we’re talking about a lot of different sensory things. So for oral he went from his binky to a chew toy, to trying different foods. He only eats a limited amount of foods, he’s very very picky. But for resources outside, he has a really strong team of different medical professionals that help with a lot of different aspects with things. Social media, reading blogs, joining different Facebook groups, and hearing other moms talk about things they’ve tried has also been really helpful. But every kid is just so different so you just have to really know your kid and just try different things.”

What’s something you might share with other moms just starting to navigate their journey with raising a child with sensory needs?

“You have to be patient. That’s something that I work on every single day. There’s so many amazing things that come with a child with special needs, but obviously it’s very hard in a number of different ways. Especially because he’s non-verbal so he can’t tell us what’s bothering him. He processes things like pain differently, so if he’s tired he may show that by being hyper-active and crashing on the couch, or if he’s in pain he may show that by turning red, he won’t necessarily cry. But be easy on yourself, and be patient!”

What is some advice you might give another mama raising a child with sensory needs?

“I would just try to read as much as possible. Seek the right professional information and go see the right specialists. We have some awesome specialists here in Hawaii. Really take advantage of sensory activities and sensory play ideas, and just new things to try. Even finding information on Instagram with certain hashtags, or you can search certain accounts, and there’s a lot of different groups on Facebook. And I feel like other moms are the best experts on everything! So just take advantage of those and do your own research, but know your own child and trust your intuition.”

You had also mentioned that our soft products have been great for your son. Can you tell us more about the benefits of this and why it's so important to find clothing and blankets that can provide the right amount of comfort?

“So for Brooks, we’ve learned over time that he really likes that deep pressure, like when an infant is swaddled and they’re just confined. Brooks was always really big on needing to be swaddled, and that’s what the quilt kind of does for him, it gives him a space where it has limits and it’s not just a free for all. And I think Amber nailed it with the fabric, it’s super soft so they feel snuggly, and in Hawaii we don’t need something super warm, you know? It’s still breathable but it has that perfect thickness, that perfect weight. And if he needs a little bit more, we double it up. But really what it does for him is it instantly calms him. So if he’s bouncing off the walls and can’t settle and we can’t figure out what he wants, if we put him on the couch with his blanket and his iPad, it completely settles him and it kind of resets him and balances him. I don’t know what’s going on in his brain, but I know this makes him feel better. And you can easily take this on the go, in the car, in the stroller, which is great.”

Does he have a favorite Coco Moon product?

“It used to be the security blanket that he would snuggle when he was really little and was going to sleep in his stroller, but now it’s definitely the quilt. The quilt is by far his favorite product!"

Anything else you'd like to share?

“Just thank you for this opportunity! We love Coco Moon, and if you ever come to our house there’s Coco Moon everywhere!”

While every family’s day to day life is different with a child with special needs, there’s always learning opportunities from other mommas and a whole community out there who can relate and offer support. Lauren’s story is one of many, and we are so thankful to have had the opportunity to interview her and learn more about Brooks and the Fiddler Fam!

If you’d like to take a look at the resources Lauren referenced, you can check them out here!

Instagram: @sensory_theraplay_box, @sensoryplaymatters, and @thesensoryproject208

Facebook Groups: Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support (SPD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Support

Lauren and Brooks (featuring the littlest addition, Olive!)