Sensory Processing Disorders
The development of our sensory systems begins before birth and continues throughout life. Sensory processing is our nervous system’s ability to take in all the information around us and then filter and organise that information in a meaningful way. It is often matched against learning from past similar experiences.
There are eight key senses which help us to understand the world around us and our bodily state within it. These are:
- Hearing (auditory)
- Touch (tactile)
- Smell (olfactory)
- Taste (gustatory)
- Vestibular (sensory information from our inner ear about our head movement. This has an important role in balance and postural control)
- Proprioception (information received from our muscles, joints and body parts about our body position. This has an important role in smooth, controlled, timely and responsive movements)
- Interoception (responsible for detecting internal regulation responses, such as respiration, hunger, heart rate, pain and the need for urination / digestive elimination etc. This has an important role in self-soothing and self-regulation and emotional responses.
Sensory integration occurs when our nervous system is able to correctly make sense of, and interpret, the incoming information thus then enabling us to act on it accordingly. If sensory information is not processed in an integrated way, behavioural responses may be inefficient, inappropriate or disproportionate.
How can KMA help?
The focus of the assessment is to identify the nature of your child’s sensory processing disorder and how it affects their day-to-day life. Your Occupational Therapist will discuss developmental progress and milestones to date, your child’s health and any disabilities or diagnosis. They will also discuss your goals and wishes – for example supporting the child to become more independent or reducing challenging or self-stimulating behaviour. The Occupational Therapist will assess your child’s play, movement skills and interactions through formal assessment and/or observation. Clinical observations may be supplemented by questionnaires which explore your child’s strengths and challenges in naturalistic everyday settings, such as home and school. If required a formal comprehensive sensory processing assessment, called the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT), may be completed.
KMA will produce a detailed yet accessible report within 10 working days of the assessment. The report will provide details on your child’s sensory processing differences and difficulties together with recommendations to help support them.
Our Occupational Therapists are experienced in providing children’s occupational therapy and passionate about providing evidence-based interventions to improve functional performance. Each treatment plan is individual, underpinned by occupational therapy philosophy, taking a person-centred and strengths-based approach. Our ultimate aim is to help a child to achieve their goals and improve their functional performance.
The occupational therapist will work with you and your child to understand the demands of their day and what they need to be able to do better or to feel more confident in. Treatment will be tailored to your child’s needs and will focus on developing the areas your child finds most difficult. Children’s occupational therapy also focusses on promoting strengths and how these can be used to develop confidence and self-esteem.
Examples of common treatment aims include:-
- Sensory integration therapy
- Implementation of a sensory diet (this is a program of calming and organising activities that will help your child to regulate their sensory input throughout their day)
- Development of posture and balance skills
- Fatigue management
- Anxiety management
- Motor / movement planning and sequencing
- Strength and muscle tone improvement
- Working with the school to develop strategies and appropriate adaptations
- Support and training for school staff to promote understanding
- Focused work on improving independence in daily tasks such as washing and dressing
Do you know a child who …?
Has difficulty coping with certain environments?
Has difficulty managing their behaviour and has sudden and unexpected behavioural outbursts?
Engages in unusual behaviours such as rocking or spinning?
Lacks concentration and has difficulty engaging in their school work?