Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Therapy Options for Sensory Processing Disorder

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

  • A child has difficulty taking in and interpreting all of the sensory stimulation they experience in one day.
    • Taste, touch, smell, sight, sound, vestibular, proprioception
  • Children who have SPD are not able to make sense of all this input.
  • Children need to be able to process this sensory information in order to pay attention, learn, plan  movements, play, and be organized.

Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Poor attention span
  • Difficulty in school
  • Messy handwriting
  • Trouble following directions
  • Inability to sit still
  • Poor coordination in sports/physical activity
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty making/keeping friend

Identifying Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Sensory Seekers
    • Constantly moving, behaviors are often inappropriate for situation, constantly touching other           people, cannot sit for long, short attention span, often labeled as having ADHD.
  • Sensory Avoiders
    • Dislike being messy, avoid touching “yucky” textures, don’t like tags on clothes or seams in socks. Certain types of sensory input are feel painful. They may respond aggressively if put in uncomfortable situations and typically avoid situations where they will be exposed to unpleasant situations.
  • Low Sensory Registration
    • Often times described as lethargic, sometimes called “lazy”. They do not recognize sensory input and are therefore slow to respond. They may seem like they are ignoring you, but are really just not processing what you are saying

How can occupational therapy help

  • Help to identify if there is a sensory processing need and what techniques can be implemented to  help improve daily performance.
  • Implement sensory integration therapy to help children be able to regulate more effectively.

Working with different sensory processing disorders

  • Sensory Seekers
    • Fidgets – have different items that can keep them occupied when they need to sit
    • Vestibular input- swinging, spinning
    • Sensory breaks throughout the day to help them meet their needs
    • Structure and planning – do not give them any surprises! Use picture schedules
    • Use a timer
  • Sensory Avoiders
    • Playing with a wide variety of textures: beans, rice, whipped cream, shaving cream, play-doh, etc.
    • Make the atmosphere fun to decrease anxiety
    • Mix enjoyable activities with non-enjoyable activities
    • Really get to know the different textures/items that will “set them off”
  • Low Sensory Registration
    • Rough and tumble play to “wake them up”
    • Playing with different textures
    • Sour candy
    • Music to increase attention and focus during task

Some techniques can be used across all different kids with sensory needs

Deep Pressure Therapy

  • Use a therapy ball to roll over your child (can stimulate, calm, give the necessary input)
  • Make a “sandwich”
  • Weather report –  this example was given in the empower to connect conference
  • Bear hugs
  • Weighted blankets, vests – sometimes can be used during the day, but works well at nights to calm/relax
  • Tight fitting clothing
  • Create their own personal tent/space where they can be alone if needed

Every child will respond differently to these techniques. Remember, the most important thing you can do with your child with sensory needs is JUST PLAY.

Contact Information

Pedatric Therapy: (712) 722-8125

More Information