What is Sensory Processing?
What is Sensory Processing: Unraveling the Complexity
As parents, we constantly strive to understand and support our children's unique needs. One aspect that significantly influences their daily experiences is sensory processing.
Sensory processing refers to how our brains receive, interpret, and respond to sensory information from the environment. It's such an important topic for everyone to understand as it can impact so many aspects of life. Both children and adults can have sensory processing difficulties and as you read this article I am sure you will think to yourself at times "That's why I didn't like that sensation". Children can be particularly sensitive to sensory processing issues so I hope you take some practical strategies away from this article to help you and your child.
Understanding Sensory Processing Challenges in Children
Sensory processing challenges can manifest in various environments, including home, school, or public spaces. It is crucial for parents to understand the difficulties their children face and how to support them. By being attentive to their child's reactions, identifying triggers, and providing appropriate support, parents can help their child navigate sensory-rich environments successfully.
Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder
One of the first steps for parents is to familiarise themselves with sensory processing disorder (SPD). This may include both hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to any of the 8 known sensory systems. Children with SPD may exhibit difficulties with self-regulation, motor skills, social interactions, and emotional regulation. Being aware of the signs of SPD can help parents identify if their child may benefit from further professional support.
It's important to keep in mind here that most people have some level of sensory differences that may or may not impact on daily life. Me for example, I used to hate the seam at the top of socks when I was younger, I would go through dozens of pairs before I found ones that didn't irritate me. Now, as an adult, this doesn’t bother me anymore whereas certain sounds can really get under my skin. So although you may be able to identify some sensory preferences or differences you have, it doesn't mean you have Sensory Processing Disorder.
Exploring Sensory Integration Therapy Techniques
Sensory integration is a specialised approach aimed at helping children with sensory processing difficulties. This therapy focuses on providing controlled sensory experiences to help regulate and organise the child's responses. Techniques such as deep pressure activities, swinging, brushing, and joint compressions can be incorporated into daily routines to promote sensory integration. We always advise to get support from a qualified professional before trying any techniques.
Sensory Processing and Autism
Many autistic children/children with Autism also experience sensory processing difficulties. Sensory differences can significantly impact their daily lives, leading to meltdowns or withdrawal from certain situations or experiences. Parents of children with Autism can explore sensory-friendly strategies, such as creating calm spaces, using sensory diets and incorporating sensory breaks to support their child's sensory needs. These are all areas out team at Gabadoo can support you with.
The Role of Occupational Therapy in Sensory Processing
Occupational therapy plays a vital role in supporting children with sensory processing challenges. By collaborating with occupational therapists, parents can develop personalised sensory diets, which include specific activities and strategies to address their child's sensory needs. Occupational therapy interventions can help children improve their self-regulation, motor skills, and overall participation in daily activities.
Addressing Sensory Processing and Behaviour Problems
Sensory processing difficulties can contribute to behaviour problems in children. It is important for parents to recognise that challenging behaviours may stem from sensory overload or seeking sensory stimulation. By identifying triggers and implementing sensory-based strategies, parents can help their child manage behaviours effectively and promote positive coping mechanisms.
Sensory Processing and Classroom Strategies
Collaboration with teachers is crucial in creating a supportive classroom environment for children with sensory processing issues. Parents can share their child's sensory preferences, discuss potential challenges, and work together to implement sensory-friendly accommodations. Strategies like sensory breaks, visual schedules, and flexible seating arrangements can greatly benefit children in the classroom setting.
Conclusion: Empowering Your Child's Sensory Development
Understanding sensory processing and its impact on children is a valuable tool for parents. By recognising the signs, seeking appropriate support, and implementing practical strategies, parents can provide a nurturing environment that fosters their child's sensory development. Remember, every child's sensory profile is unique, and with patience, empathy, and proactive approaches, parents can empower their children to thrive and reach their full potential.
We always advise to get support from a qualified professional so that an individualised tailored plan can be put in place that is suitable for your child’s sensory needs.
Why not book a video consultation with one of our Lead Therapists?