Raise Vegan August 2018 - Page 51

S ensory Processing 101 By Haley Addis, M.S., CCC-SLP moretosayct.com @moretosayct What may be some signs of SPD? In infants & toddlers it may look like difficulty eating, difficulty falling/staying asleep, irritability when dressing, or a delay in motor milestones. In preschoolers, it may look like difficulty with toilet training, sudden mood changes, difficulty with transitions, or a decreased awareness of being touched. Here are some activities and strategies, broken down by sensory systems, that may be helpful for children with SPD and can help promote development of the different senses: Tactile – stress balls, shaving cream, bean bags, rice box, massage, pushing against walls or other firm, immobile surfaces You may have heard of the term sensory processing (also called sensory integration) before but you might not be totally sure what it means. Sensory processing is a normal central nervous system function that enables each of us to to interact with the world. Basically, sensory information is received, processed, and organized both at an unconscious level and higher cortical levels for conscious awareness. With this continuous supply of well-an- alyzed sensory information, a person is able to react to his or her environment in an appropriate and effective manner. All of our senses take part in sensory processing. These are: Tactile (Touch) Auditory (Hearing) Visual (Sight) Olfactory (Smell) Gustatory (Taste) Vestibular (Balance) Proprioception (Position/Movement) Some individuals have difficulty processing information received by the senses. This is called sensory processing disorder (SPD). Usually, an occupational therapist will make this diagnosis. When individuals present with SPD, a treatment approach called sensory integration therapy can be utilized. This form of treatment should be used in conjunction with other approaches as it does not directly address specific skills development, but rather helps normalize the sensory system by providing controlled sensory stimulation. Auditory – noise-cancelling headphones, ear plugs, minimized sounds, soothing music, tennis balls on the feet of chairs (to reduce the sound of these scraping on the floor) Visual – sunglasses, foldable dividers, dim room (for an overstimulated child), well-lit room (for an under-stimulated child), bright colors Olfactory & gustatory – rubber necklaces to chew or gum, remove strong scents and cleaning products Proprioception – pencil grips, adaptive scissors, weighted vests, walking with heavy objects Vestibular – sitting on an exercise ball, walking on a balance beam, trampolines, swings The above-mentioned symptoms could be due to a variety of issues, but if you suspect that your child may be struggling with SPD, or have general concerns about his or her sensory processing, contact an occupational therapist (your doctor may be able to give you a referral) to set up an evaluation so you can get them the support they may need! RAISEVEGAN.COM Raise Vegan 51