Occupational Therapy for Children with Sensory Issues

Sensory processing disorder in children is a condition that develops when the sensory signals fail to be interpreted into the right responses. This prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information necessary for correct interpretation.

Sensory Processing DisorderAt times, it causes children to under-respond or over-respond to sensation due to physical contact hence making food, sound, light, clothing unbearable. Motor and posture skills are also affected when the sensory processing of messages from the joints and the body muscles is impaired. It is therefore important to diagnose this condition and use occupational therapy to prevent them from experiencing these signs of depression and social isolation during their adulthood.

Occupational therapy for children with sensory issues allows them to understand effective ways of processing information since it teaches them using adaptable methods.  Typically, sensory integration therapy takes place in a gym which has a sensory rich environment. Therapists guide children through fun activities which are finely structured for them to be persistently challenged but always successful. Its goal is to promote appropriate responses to sensation in a meaningful, fun and active way for the kids to conduct themselves in a more functional manner.

With time, these appropriate responses generalize to areas beyond the environment of the clinic including school, home and the larger community. This allows affected kids to take place in normal activities such as dressing, eating, enjoying school and playing with friends just like their peers. In addition parents are involved as they work with the therapists to learn more about the sensory challenges of their children and how to engage in therapeutic activities or sensory diet.

Parents are expected to employ these ideas at home and everywhere else. In some cases, families are given opportunity to involve other people who interact with the child regularly such as teachers. On the other hand, this treatment helps parents and people living with the child to know that sensory disorder is real, even if it is not too obvious. Thus, it makes them better advocates of their affected children within the community and at school.

Some of the common methods used are discussed below.

Auditory integration therapy- Special music playing CDs with certain pitches and frequencies are used by an occupational therapist to change the processing of sound information by the brain.

The Wilbarger Brushing protocol- This is used when a child has tactile sensory issues. A brush is used to brush the skin of a child in a way a special way to reduce the sensitivity to tangible stimuli.

Other methods- Most of these methods look like playing but they have specific focuses and goals. They are different each child and they include

  • Weighted blankets to deal with pressure
  • Trampolines, rocking toys and swing sets to help in movement
  • Joint compression to regulate the nervous system
  • Sensory fidget bag to stimulate a calming effect.
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