Sensory processing disorder

Sensory processing disorder

My child doesn’t like to take head bath, my child don’t like to be touched, my child don’t like loud noises, my child walks on tiptoes.. Etc. Parents usually know and understand their children better than anyone else and also they will understand that their children are suffering. But they lack with information why they are struggling. This information will help you to understand why your children behave in different manner.

All of the information we receive about the world comes to us through our sensory systems. Because many sensory process takes place in the nervous system at an unconscious level. We are not usually aware of them. Although we all are familiar with the sense involved in taste, smell, sight and sound. Most of us do not realize that our nervous system also sense touch, movement, force of gravity and body position. Just as the eyes detect visual information and relay it on to the brain for interpretation, all sensory systems have receptors that pick up information to be perceived by the brain. Cells within the skin send information about light, touch, pain, temperature and pressure. Structures within the inner ear detect movement and change in the position of the head. Components of muscles, joint and tendons provide and awareness of the body. In brief we call it as Sensory Integration.

Sensory Integration refers to neural processes through which the brain receives, registers and organizes sensory inputs for use in generating the body’s adaptive responses to the surrounding environment. Sensory integration is necessary in order to able to use the body effectively within the environment. It is the foundation that allows for complex learning and behavior. Our brain takes in the information from the senses and uses it to form a full picture of who we are, where we are, and what is going around us. This picture can only be formed through the critical process of sensory integration.

When the brain has trouble in receiving, registering and responding to the information that comes in through the senses is called Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Dysfunction.

We all are familiar with five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. In addition to these 5 senses we also have other two senses. Those are – The vestibular sense and Proprioception sense. The vestibular sense or movement and balance sense, gives us information about where our head and body are in space. It allows us to stay upright while we sit, stand, and walk. Proprioception, or body awareness sense, tells us where our body parts are relative to each other. It also gives us information about how much force to use in certain activities, allowing us to crack open an egg without crushing it in our hands.

Some of the signs and symptoms to know sensory integration is not happening properly:

  • Hair being washed, brushed or cut
  • Don’t like sunlight or bright light
  • Don’t like to eat new foods
  • Unaware of normal touch or Pain, touching others either too hard or too soft
  • Don’t like to be tickled or cuddled
  • Walking on tiptoes
  • Problem in focusing or concentrating
  • Sensitive to loud sounds. Ex: Mixer grinder, vacuum cleaners
  • Chewing everything
  • Poor fine motor movements. Ex: holding pen, cutting
  • Difficulty in dressing self
  • Sitting in “W” position
  • Smelling all the objects and people
  • Always want to wear socks and hate to walk on bare foot
  • Avoid getting touched or Constant need to touch people or textures, even when it’s inappropriate to do so
  • Refuse to wear certain clothing
  • Covers eyes and ears
  • Oversensitivity or under sensitivity to movement sensation
  • Unusual high or low activity level
  • Problems of motor coordination may be awkward or seemingly careless
  • Bump into things
  • Avoid crowds or avoids standing close proximity to others
  • Fear of swings or other playground equipment
  • Hard to engage in conversation or play
  • Immature social skills
  • Lack of self –control

Sensory Processing disorder is mostly associated with

  • Autism
  • ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Behavioral disorder
  • Learning disability

Causes for Sensory Processing Disorder

There are no specific causes found for the sensory processing disorder. Preliminary research suggests that sensory processing disorder is often inherited. The causes of SPD are coded into the child’s genetic material. The causes are likely to be the result of factors that are both genetic and environmental.

Who and what therapy can help children with Sensory Processing Disorder?

Occupational or physical therapy using a sensory integrative approach is recommended. Make sure that a qualified professional will be seeing your child.

In therapy child will be guided through activities that challenge his or her ability to respond appropriately to sensory input by making a successful, organized response. Therapy will involve activities that provide vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile stimulation, and are designed to meet the child’s specific needs for development.

Sensory integration room is a special room designed and equipped to stimulate the senses of hearing, sight, touch and smell. It is a place where children with sensory integration disorder can explore and develop their sensory skills, but also where they can relax and relieve their stress and anxiety.

What type of therapy material should be used?

Therapy ball, therapy mats, small roll, prone wedge, Balance board Trampoline, Kaye –Walkers, Modified chairs, practice beam, Bean bag, Peg board, wedges, Stacking rings, Balancing toy, Step stander, Ball pool, Slider, sand trays, squeeze toys, sensory box, tactile mats, Rocking toy, Trampette, splints, Wooden benches, bolster swings, play tent, head phones, sensory wall with multitude of colors, different textures, roof with neutral colors with mirror at places.

Providing responsive, nurturing and stimulating experiences establish the wiring of the brain connections. Children who are well supported and nurtured physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually will develop a multitude of neural connections that will serve them well throughout their life course. A child’s interest and curiosity are the motivators that create new connections to acquire new skills. Each new skill builds on a skill already learned.

Amruta Malatesh Gonal
Teaching Associate Dept. Human Development and Family Studies
College of Home Science, Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University,
Guntur, Andhra Pradesh-522006

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