Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD, occurs when a child is unable to process the integration of the different senses (visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, etc.). SPD is an intricate disorder of the brain, however its causes and the specific areas in charge of it remain unknown. It is important to note that SPD is a disorder that starts off at a young age and can remain in adulthood, especially if it is not treated. SPD manifests in the child feeling overly sensitive to various inputs, such as complaining of itchy fabrics, reacting to certain food textures negatively, overly aware of sounds and many more. Your child may also be reacting by showing signs of under-responsiveness such as being sluggish and lethargic, unresponsive to loud noises, displaying trouble waking up in the morning, etc. Attaining to your child’s needs at home is crucial and therefore we recommend using a ‘Sensory Diet’
What does ‘Sensory Diet’ means?
I believe that each child, no matter the development, has unique sensory needs. Many times, we as parents are unable to accommodate these needs, therefore higher level of awareness and more in depth knowledge can assist us as parents to better address these needs. Some children may need a more structured program (if they are diagnosed with ADHD, Sensory processing Disorder, or Autism) , but many typical developing children (over 10%) show sensory overload, either hyper sensitivity or hypo sensitivity, and may need extra help from us as parents and teachers.
A Sensory Diet is a planned and scheduled activity program designed to meet a child’s specific sensory needs. This is considered a ‘dynamic’ schedule, which should change over time as the child’s behavior changes. An Occupational Therapist can assist in making adjustments to the program as needed. It is important to understand the nature of this diet, like any other diet it must be consistent and supervised by professionals.
Some examples how to help your child with sensory issues:
• Use deep pressure activities like making a body sandwich, hand massages, Thera-putty/ Bear walk, etc.
• Before any messy work or play, provide the child with a deep/bear hug. Make the child sit in your lap and provide slow linear and quiet movements by using deep touch to calm the child from the sensory overload.
• Make them a line leader or at the end of the line, depending on their choice.
• Use fidgeting toys, air cushions or squeeze balloons which you can make at home with them.
• Use slow rocking/ swaying if the child has a meltdown.