At Advance for Kids, our therapists understand the underlying sensory processing issues that children with special needs may have. While Occupational Therapists usually focus more on this area, all our therapists are aware of the importance of sensory input.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Disorder?
Sensory Processing is the way a child perceives, learns, and organizes sensations from their body and the environment to complete meaningful activities. Occupational therapists provide treatment to children who are hypersensitive (defensive) or hyposensitive (seeking) to help regulate and filter sensory input. Input interpreted by others as pleasurable may be interpreted by the child as painful. These children may react with fight/ fright/ flight reactions. Occupational Therapists work with Speech-Language Pathologist and Physical Therapists to help regulate sensory input into the body.
Sensory Processing Disorder can be:
Tactile – child has an overreaction to touch experiences. May avoid touch from others, irritation with hair washing/cutting, or clothing.
Proprioception – child is fearful of movement due to poor postural control, has a decreased awareness of pain and danger, craves rough housing. The child may frequently bump into things or others.
Vestibular– child avoids playground equipment, appears clumsy, or constantly craves motion (i.e. running, jumping, rocking, and/or spinning).
Visual – child appears to be over sensitive to light or to other stimuli in the environment. May include distractibility or gaze avoidance.
Oral – child may avoid certain foods/textures in and around the mouth. Other children seek out oral sensations and may chew or suck on objects.
Olfactory – child may avoid certain smells gag/vomit when exposed to certain smells, prefer to smell items, or crave a certain smell.
Auditory – child may be overly sensitive to certain sounds, cover ears in stores, restaurants, etc. Child may make sound effects of their own that are pleasing to them or prefer certain sounds/music.