No matter how careful parents think they are, there are times when many of them fail to look at certain signs in their kids which they shouldn’t.
Have you noticed your toddler being unusually sensitive to light or noise, or are they very picky about the clothes or shoes they prefer (which usually are extremely tight or scratchy)?
Well, these signs along with some others that we are going to later mention here are not to be ignored because unbeknown to you, your child might be suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Medically speaking, SPD is a health condition wherein the person suffering from it is unable to properly process multi-sensory integration in order to respond to the demands of the environment.
Let us try and understand it by adopting a more simplistic approach.
In our everyday lives, we process all the information around us with the help of senses. This includes the lunch we eat, the music we listen to, the photographs we see, the perfume we smell and the burn we feel when we touch something hot. However, there are also two other senses that many people are not even aware of and they use it without even realizing it.
The first of these two senses is proprioception, which basically refers to your body awareness. There are receptors within your muscles and joints that direct your brain as to where your limbs are positioned in space. The second additional sense is called the vestibular receptor. These receptors provide your brain with information regarding the movement of your bodies. These receptors are located in your inner ears.
Now, most children can easily process the sensory input around them in order to perform behavioral responses. However, everyone is not equipped with this ability and this is how kids develop SPD.
Children suffering from this disorder are unable to process or integrate the information around them cohesively. As a result, this affects them to carry out their daily activities successfully.
How to Understand Whether Your Child is Suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder or Not?
Apart from the signs we mentioned in the first paragraph, there are also several different signs that your child might display if he or she is suffering from SPD.
Kids who are comparatively clumsy compared to other kids or have difficulty with motor skills such as holding a pencil are likely patients of SPD. We also come across kids who are known for throwing huge tantrums or having big meltdowns for apparently no reason. Usually, these meltdowns generate from bright lights or loud noises or an overwhelming situation.
Instead of getting angry and unabashedly reprimanding them for the same, you should understand that they are likely suffering from SPD and provide them with the help that they need. Stick around to learn how you can help your kid if he or she is suffering from SPD.
These kids also are highly anxious and can get overwhelmed or distracted quite easily. Sometimes, they are extremely sensitive to stimulation, while sometimes, they are not sensitive enough. They also can have poor impulse control.
However, you need to remember that meltdown can also be a sign that your kid is suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or severe anxiety too. So, getting a proper diagnosis before providing the treatment is an absolute must.
Role of Occupational Therapy in Treating SPD
When it comes to treating SPD, an occupational therapist can help you in identifying how your kid is processing and responding to sensory information. If your kid is diagnosed with SPD, then occupational therapists work on a variety of strategies and techniques to help address the issue.
The best part about this therapy is that the professionals try and foster appropriate responses from the kids in a fun, active, and meaningful way so that your kid is not intimidated by a “highly medical” procedure. They keep the situation as light-hearted as possible while being effective.
So, if you notice the signs that we mentioned above, your first plan of action should be to book an appointment at a certified occupational therapy clinic to get your kid diagnosed.
Activities Involved in Occupational Therapy
In case if the results show that your kid is indeed suffering from SPD, then the occupational therapist will plan a variety of fun activities that are subtle by nature, yet challenging to your kid in a positive way.
This therapy is also different from other types of therapies that usually run once a week. Occupational therapy is built with a 24/7 approach wherein activities are incorporated at school, home as well in therapy sessions.
He or she will guide and work with you in your home to help you understand the sensory challenges that your kid is facing. Alongside that, he or she will also teach you the various strategies and techniques you need to implement at home to help your kid. These are known as ‘sensory diet’.
An ideal occupational therapist would also encourage you to make the surroundings of your child (especially your home) ‘sensory smart’. This means a reduction of visual clutter or the creation of quiet spaces. Besides, they also would ask you to buy weighted blankets and vests, fidget toys, pressure garments, and chew-able jewelry and give to your kid in order to accelerate the success of the therapy.
You are your kid’s only hope. Therefore, you need to look out for them. Instead of getting frustrated, be patient, and help overcome their challenges. It is hard; we won’t deny that, but it is worth the love that you have for your kid.