PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR THE CHILD WITH SENSORY PROCESSING NEEDS
Presented by Gaye Griffiths, SI & NDT trained Children’s Occupational Therapist
This presentation will provide an introduction and overview of sensory processing skills. It will provide parents with tools to better understand their child’s sensory needs and helpful management strategies. This presentation is for parents new to the concepts of sensory processing.
What is sensory processing?
Sensory processing it what allows us to receive, organise and respond to sensory input and experiences. If managed well we can focus our attention, move effectively and respond adaptively to our environment. Sensory processing issues often come hand in hand with other learning and attention issues and conditions.
It is what a child is feeling when she has extreme reactions.
Compare it to how most people feel when they touch a hot stove. To a child with sensory processing problems, an itchy sweater might feel just as intense and uncomfortable. The loud siren you find annoying might actually be painful for her.
For some children they are over or under responsive to sensory input. They may be bothered by sights, sounds, textures, flavours or smells. Or they might not respond to some sensory input, like being tapped on the shoulder. Some sensory problems can affect a child’s motor skills like climbing, sitting at a table or getting dressed. These puzzling behaviours that are not related to the child’s need for attention or to communicate; are instead telling us the child is seeking or avoiding sensory input beyond what is expected for their developmental age. They have great difficulty in organizing their movement and learning new skills causing disruptive behavioural responses. Transition times can be particularly challenging for children with sensory processing problems as their threshold for changing sensory environments varies.
Helping children, their families and teachers to recognise potential sensory-stressful situations and/or the specific needs of the individual and to incorporate child-specific strategies is so important in order to generate a positive outcome.
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