Sensory issues can cause many behavior challenges. Being overstimulated or having aversions to many things in the environment can cause children to over-react to simple tasks or activities.
Google says that 'sensory' is an adjective that means relating to sensation or the physical senses; transmitted or perceived by the senses. WebMD says that when a person has a sensory processing disorder (SPD), his brain has trouble receiving and responding to information from the senses. Mayo Clinic says that children who have problems tolerating or processing sensory information are affected in areas such as touch, balance, and hearing.
SPD is NOT a medical diagnosis. Some occupational therapists will incorporate sensory activities within their sessions. There are many names for SPD, varying forms of it, and some treatments implemented for it, such as Oral Tactile Technique (OTT), Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT), as well as Tactile Defensiveness and 'sensory overload.' Although research has NOT shown any effectiveness in receiving sensory therapy, many children see benefits from participating.
Children who have been diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly experience sensory issues. But, any child can present with symptoms of a sensory challenge. Any parent who has a child with sensory processing difficulties can tell you that it is a daily frustration and struggle to help your child. They yell and have tantrums because things don't feel good. They avoid places and activities because it's too loud, too bright, or they worry about what they'll have to do their. Behavior due to sensory challenges is often seen as defiance.
When my son was younger, he would cry each time I cut his fingernails. He said it hurt even though I knew I wasn't doing anything that would hurt him. He hated having his hair washed; water on his face was a disaster. He didn't like his hands to be dirty especially with slimy things and I had to cut the tags out of all his clothes. For awhile, he would only wear 'soft pants,' (sweat pants, workout pants, etc.).
I finally was able to get an Occupational Therapy evaluation for him (mostly due to the fact that he also had many food aversions such as not eating any fruits or vegetables; not eating a cracker if it was broken; etc.). They recommended the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol (WBP).
I was skeptical at first, but after just a few times I almost cried with joy! I could cut his fingernails and wash his hair! And, he didn't even cry. I don't know why it worked but it did. It's been years now, and he is much better than he used to be. I only used the WBP for the recommended few weeks. We still struggle with aversions to food but it's better than it was.
If your child has a diagnosis, please follow your doctor's instructions. Work with your child's team of Occupational, Speech, and Physical Therapists. Learn as much as you can about the disorder and stay current on new approaches. Ask the therapists to teach you and watch them, so when they are gone, you can help your child. Find support groups where like-minded parents can share and listen to your challenges.
Other families try art therapy, music therapy, or even special diets. Find what works for your child. This could change at some point so stay aware of your child's behavior before and after the therapies.
Here are some things to look for:
If you have concerns about your child's sensory needs, please speak with your pediatrician or family doctor. It's important to find out what is causing these challenges and, if possible, have a professional team assisting you in treating your child.
Here are some activities that have worked in our house:
Disclaimer: I am NOT an OT, PT, or Doctor. I cannot give medical advice. This blog is about what works with my children and some other children. Only you and your doctor can decide what works best for your child and your family.
Please see mymundaneandmiraculouslife.com for more great information on sensory challenges.
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