How do Occupational Therapists help with Sensory Processing Disorder?

23 Feb, 2021

For many parents, having their child diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder might come as a big challenge as it can impact the way a child interacts with their environment and others.

We will talk about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in kids and what kind of treatment is necessary to help regulate themselves more appropriately and improve their capacity to engage in their environments and with others in a more appropriate way.

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that impacts on a person’s ability to process sensory input (stimuli) and regulate their responses to different stimuli. Every moment of our lives, we process outside stimuli through our senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, movement, and body awareness. The way a person manages different stimuli and how they respond to different stimuli can be an indication of the presence of an SPD.

The presence of a SPD is typically assessed through a specialist, such as an Occupational Therapist, who can observe and gather information regarding each individual’s sensory processing patterns and their behaviours or responses to different stimuli. There are two different types of sensory processing challenges; a person might be overly sensitive (hyper sensitive) to stimuli, causing that person to display sensory avoiding behaviours, or under sensitive (hyposensitive) to stimuli, causing that person to display sensory seeking behaviours.

Symptoms include:

  • Delay in motor skills or appearing clumsy.
  • Having an a-typical response to a typically ordinary sensory stimuli. For example, covering your ears in more noisy environments.
  • Having strong emotional outbursts to in response to different stimuli
  • Having an aversion to different textures. For example different food textures or clothing materials.

How to treat SPD?

For a child with sensory processing disorder, getting them used to the stimuli gradually and safely is the key. The treatment for sensory processing disorders involves working with an occupational therapist who can train the child’s sensory response through a sensory integration approach.

Occupational Therapy Sensory Processing

During the therapy sessions, depending on what form of SPD the child has, the following tactics might be applied:

  • Applying deep pressure and brushing techniques gradually, to mimic the stimuli that usually gets an amplified emotional response;
  • Sensory-based play where parents and children deal with different types of stimuli in a relaxed, playful manner;
  • Introducing a sensory diet for the home and school environment: the OT designs a personalised routine of activities that help the child regulate their responses to different kinds of stimuli;
  • Motor planning: breaking usual activities into steps and teaching the child to rationalise them to respond in a balanced way.

With help from an occupational therapist, a child struggling with a sensory processing disorder can learn how to respond to the things around them and be happier, calmer, and more eager to explore the things that used to be a challenge before.

Parents, teachers, and caregivers should be supported in assessing the situations when the child needs help and guide them through the process. The occupational therapists at Gen Physio are able to do that and, first of all, can drastically improve the life of your child. Get in touch with us today on 1300 122 884.

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