Tags on clothes, cold food, and loud noises are all examples of things that children with sensory processing disorder might be sensitive to. Sensory processing disorder can present itself in a variety of different ways because it can look different for every child. Plus, it can affect all of your senses, or just some of them. While it is most associated with children, this disorder can continue on through adult life. As individuals get older and receive therapy, their symptoms can become less bothersome in their day-to-day life. Join us as we continue talking about sensory processing disorder!
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is when children, teens, or adults have difficulties processing information from their senses and responding correctly to that information. This can include all, or just one, of your senses: touch, movement, smell, taste, vision, and hearing. An individual with sensory processing disorder can experience either over-sensitivity (hypersensitivity) or under-sensitivity (hyposensitivity). Because sensory processing disorder can include all of your senses, there are a variety of different ways it can affect an individual. Below are some of the most common reactions:
– Constantly moving around such as jumping, swinging, spinning, etc.
– Difficulty with potty training
– Dislike for certain fabrics on their skin
– Does not like being touched or held
– Invades personal space
– Oversensitive to odors
– Overly sensitive to sounds like hair dryers, leaf blowers, sirens, etc.
– Refuses to eat certain foods because of texture, temperature, or how it feels when chewing
– Slow to respond to pain or doesn’t notice it
How to Treat
Sensory processing disorder is often treated with occupational therapy and is called sensory integration. After an initial evaluation, a pediatric occupational therapist will be able to determine a plan of care for your child and the appropriate next steps. During the evaluation, the occupational therapist will go through a series of tests while carefully observing your child’s coordination, balance, eye movements, and how they respond to stimulation. Occupational therapy for sensory processing disorder will focus on doing activities that will challenge your child’s sensory input. The goal is to help your child improve their movement, coordination, eye motor skills, and how they are touched through the use of play. This will help your child learn how to respond appropriately to things like personal space, loud sounds, and more.
Some common things an occupational therapist might have your child work on at home and in therapy is jumping jacks, rolling on a therapy ball, push-ups, and jumping up and down. These activities are used because they are pushing or pulling against your child’s body and creating that sensory input we are looking to work on. Sensory processing disorder can also be treated with feeding therapy. If a child is sensitive to textures or temperatures of food, feeding therapy might be able to help them.
If your child’s sensory processing disorder is causing them not to focus in school, you can talk to their teacher about bringing different items into the classroom to assist. If your child is sensitive to noise, headphones or earplugs can be a great way to calm down the noises around them. Fidget toys can provide the sensory and tactile stimulation that your child might be searching for. Because they come in different types of toys, you can easily pack these with your child for school to help them focus better. We also recommend placing therapy bands around the bottom of their seats at school. This will help them not to kick their feet around while they are trying to focus.
Occupational Therapy at PediaPlex
PediaPlex in Dallas/Fort Worth offers pediatric occupational therapy and feeding therapy for children with sensory processing disorder. A sensory processing disorder can be difficult to diagnosis, so we believe in early intervention to see if the child would benefit from therapy services. If you’re not sure if your child would benefit from occupational therapy, we encourage you to fill out an intake form and talk with our intake coordinator! We can discuss the concerns you are having and help you determine the best next steps to take for your child. To find out more about occupational therapy, visit our website today!
-The PediaPlex Family