Sensory processing difficulties become a problem when they impact a child’s ability to participate in daily activities, such as school, social, community, and family activities. Occupational therapy intervention in the school setting focuses on providing both teachers and students with skills to succeed in the academic setting. Approaches used include directly working with the student on understanding and learning about their behavior (Zones of Regulation), establishing clear and individualized expectations for that student in the classroom, working with the teacher on management of sensory difficulties and supportive accommodations, and teaching the student advocacy skills to recognize when they need to assume responsibility for their behavior and how to take control over their body.
Some children have difficulties with every day life skills (activities of daily living or ADL’s) such as getting dressed, personal hygiene (brushing teeth, bathing, toileting), meals, and transitions which can impact the entire family. These difficulties may further limit a family’s ability to participate in the activities they enjoy such as attending group gatherings, traveling, eating out, going to movies etc. Our occupational therapists work closely with the child and family to address barriers that may be limiting participation in ADL’s.
What is Sensory Processing?
Some children may process sensory information poorly or inefficiently, which can lead to difficulty in responding to sensory information appropriately. For example, some children may be hypersensitive to sensory stimuli and may feel bombarded or overwhelmed by these sensations (loud sounds, the feel of clothing, certain smells, food textures etc.). Others may be hyposensitive to sensory stimuli, which means that they are less aware of that sense, and may seek out more intense experiences so that their nervous system can register and respond to it. These children are often called “sensory seekers” and are described as being “on the move” and having poor awareness of physical boundaries and safety.
Our occupational therapists will work closely with your child and family to provide you with the tools and strategies you need to live your lives more fully. Sensory processing therapy will allow your child to explore difficult sensory experiences in a safe and supportive environment so that they can begin to participate in activities they previously avoided.