What is Sensory Processing? The ability of the BRAIN to take in sensations (vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory, and taste) and make sense of those sensations so that the brain and body can function normally.
Sensations come into the brain along many different sensory channels and the brain must be able to channel and send those to the right places in order to function properly.
Signs of Sensory Processing Issues:
1. Observation: Can be done by anyone but is reported most accurately by those who work most closely with the individual, and is just merely watching the individual and being able to report how they react to different sensations, different environments, and their behaviors in their day to day activities. We often use a standardized assessment called the Sensory Profile to gain this information or a lengthy parent questionnaire is sent with the OT evaluation packet to gain information on daily life issues with sensory processing.
2. Evaluation: Done by an Occupational Therapist using clinical observations, report from caregivers, and play observations as well as a specific evaluation tools. The evaluation will assist the O.T. in making a clinical judgement as to whether the individual has a sensory processing disorder and where to begin treatment.
Typical Sensory Processing Disorder Behaviors:
* Attention Problems
* Difficulty maintaining an alert but relaxed state- hyperactivity or decreased activity
* Avoidance of touch or movement
* Self-stimulation- especially if it is persistent and interferes with function
* Self injurious behaviors
* Difficulty with transitions from one place or one activity to another
* Unpredictable explosions of emotions
* Impaired learning
How do sensory processing disorders/problems impair an individual?
What can happen if we treat their sensory needs?
* Improved motor planning, development of skills
* Decreased need to stimulate or injure self or others
* Improved ability to pay attention, participate, and learn
* Increased learning of self-care, work, and leisure activities= INCREASED INDEPENDENCE
* Improved social interaction
* Decreased fear and anxiety
* Improved communication of wants and needs
* Improved ability to handle distractions and transitions
* More able to have fun and engage in the world around them
* Improved ability to take advantage of their environment, make choices, integrate into the community, and enjoy life more!
So how do we treat sensory processing disorders?
Sensory Processing Definitions and Precautions:
Light Touch is a protective and arousing, and can cause a release of stress hormones.
Deep Pressure is calming and helps with awareness of body in space.
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