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06 Feb. 2023

Understanding Sensory Processing Disorders in Children


As parents, caregivers, and educators, we all want to see the children in our lives thrive and blossom into their full potential. However, for some children, the journey to self-discovery and growth can be hindered by sensory processing disorders (SPDs). These disorders often go unnoticed or misunderstood, making it crucial for us to delve into the world of SPDs to better support these young buds on their path to blooming. In this blog, we'll explore what sensory processing disorders are, their various subtypes, how to recognize the signs, and most importantly, how to provide the necessary care and support.

Understanding Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs):

Sensory processing disorders, often referred to as SPDs, are neurodevelopmental conditions that affect how a child's nervous system receives, processes, and responds to sensory information from their environment. SPDs can manifest in various ways, impacting a child's ability to engage with their surroundings, learn, and develop essential life skills.

Subtypes of Sensory Processing Disorders:

Sensory Over Responsivity:

Children with this subtype are overly sensitive to sensory stimuli, such as loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures. These sensitivities can lead to strong emotional reactions and avoidance behaviours.

Sensory Under Responsivity:

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some children with SPD may not register sensory information effectively. They might appear unresponsive to pain or seem unaware of their surroundings, making it challenging to engage them in activities.

Sensory Seeking:

Children with sensory seeking tendencies actively seek out sensory experiences. They may crave intense sensory input, such as constant movement or excessive touching of objects or people.

Recognizing the Signs of SPD:

Recognizing the signs of sensory processing disorders is the first step towards providing appropriate support. Common signs may include:

Excessive meltdowns or tantrums triggered by sensory stimuli.
Extreme reactions to specific textures, tastes, or smells.
Difficulty transitioning between activities or environments.
Over or underreacting to pain or injuries.
Difficulty with fine motor skills like handwriting or tying shoelaces.

Diagnosis and Professional Help

If you suspect that a child in your care may have SPD, it's essential to seek professional evaluation from occupational therapists or developmental paediatricians. These experts can conduct assessments to determine the specific subtype and severity of the disorder, allowing for tailored interventions and therapies.

Strategies for Supporting Children with SPD:

Sensory Integration Therapy:

This therapy helps children gradually adapt to sensory stimuli by providing them with structured and controlled sensory experiences.

Create Sensory-Friendly Environments:

Make adjustments at home and in educational settings to reduce sensory triggers. Use soft lighting, provide noise-cancelling headphones, or offer sensory breaks when needed.

Visual Schedules

Use visual schedules to help children anticipate and understand transitions between activities, reducing anxiety.

Occupational Therapy:

Occupational therapists can provide individualised interventions to improve a child's sensory processing abilities and self-regulation skills.

Patience and Understanding:

Be patient with children who have SPD. Understand that their reactions are not intentional and may stem from sensory discomfort.

Building a Supportive Community:

In addition to professional help, connecting with other parents and caregivers who have children with SPD can be invaluable. Sharing experiences, strategies, and emotional support within a community can make the journey more manageable and less isolating.

Understanding and supporting children with sensory processing disorders is essential for their healthy development and growth. By recognizing the signs, seeking professional help, and implementing appropriate strategies, we can provide these young buds with the nurturing environment they need to blossom into their full potential. Let us be advocates for children with SPD, helping them navigate the world with confidence and resilience, ensuring that every bud can flourish into a beautiful bloom.

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