Sensory Processing Difficulties
Sensory processing is a neurological process that enables a person to accurately perceive, interpret and respond to sensation from the body and environment. It is the process whereby the brain receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor or behavioural responses.
If the brain fails to process and integrate sensation and the child’s responses interfere with daily functioning, the child is said to have a sensory processing disorder (SPD).
Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder, like those of most disorders, occur within a broad spectrum of severity.
Depending on the severity and the sensory systems involved, children will display different symptoms, including difficulties with behaviour, emotional regulation, social skills, attention, learning and motor coordination.
A child who has sensory processing difficulties (SPD) may show some of the following symptoms:
- Being a fussy eater- dislike of certain flavours and textures
- Uncomfortable in clothing
- Difficulty knowing how to play with toys
- Poor body awareness
- Poor postural control and endurance
- Appear withdrawn and difficult to engage
- Gross and fine motor-coordination challenges
- Dislike of self-care tasks; hair cut, nails cut, teeth cleaned or wearing certain clothing
- Avoidance of messy play activities
- Seeking out movement- Constantly climbing, crashing, fidgeting, spinning or jumping
- Easily distracted or overwhelmed when there is a lot of noise around
- Displaying a need to touch everything and everyone
- Drapes self over furniture and others
How can I help?
I can offer a variety of different approaches, depending on your child's assessed needs. This includes:
- Parent education- teaching you about sensory processing difficulties and helping you better understand your child's difficulties.
- Working with you to develop an individualised sensory diet to help manage issues like meltdowns, sleep problems, poor attention skills, difficulty sitting still etc.
- Advising you about equipment to purchase that will help your child manage their sensory difficulties at home and school.
- Working with your child 1:1 to teach them self-regulation strategies to manage their anxiety, emotions and behaviour.
- Movement based therapy, providing enhanced sensory stimulation to help mature your child's neurological system. This will help develop postural control, attention skills , coordination and emotional regulation.
- Advice about how to manage a child's environment, routines and ability to cope with transitions and change. This includes use of social stories, visual aids etc
These are some of the common difficulties but the list isn’t exhaustive. Please get in touch below if your child demonstrates difficulty and you’re unsure if it could be a sensory processing problem.