What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Sensory Processing Disorder
Have you ever had this familiar scenario occur?
Your child behaves inappropriately in public or at school, and you're told by the teacher that your child is disruptive in class, a distraction to others or whose behaviour is becoming uncontrollable; that they have ‘sensory issues’ and might have SPD - a Sensory Processing Disorder?
Now what is sensory processing disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is a condition that affects the way your child interacts with their environment. It can make daily activities like eating, dressing, and playing difficult. SPD is a neurological condition that affects how people perceive information from their senses and respond appropriately. The signs and symptoms of SPD are not just behavioural; they can also affect your child's development, so it's important to determine if your child has SPD as early as possible so you can start treatment.
What is the first thing you should do as a parent?
Check out that your child's difficulty is not due to something else!
If you suspect your child has a sensory processing disorder, the first thing you should do is make sure that it's not a hearing or eyesight problem!
If your child has trouble hearing, it can be difficult for them to process what they hear and understand instructions in the first place. Likewise, if they have trouble seeing, this could significantly affect their coordination.
When a child is struggling with a sensory processing issues, they may exhibit a variety of signs and symptoms. Some of the most common include:
- Having difficulty staying focused on tasks, especially when there are multiple stimuli present (like when there are other children talking or playing around them)
- Having difficulty staying seated while waiting for something (for example, at the doctor's office)
- Being restless or unable to sit still while waiting for something (like dinner) or while completing a task such as sitting at the table eating dinner)
- Having difficulty transitioning between activities without getting upset or anxious about it (for example, going from playing outside to doing homework)
- Having trouble with social interactions
- Having difficulty with balance and coordination
- Being overly sensitive to smells, tastes, sounds or movement
- Being easily startled or frightened by loud noises or bright lights
- Trouble regulating emotions (such as crying or getting upset easily)
If it turns out that your child does have a sensory processing difficulties, there are some things you can try doing at home to help them cope:
- Give visual cues when giving directions or instructions. For example, if you're telling your child to put away their toys, use gestures like pointing to where they should put each toy down instead of saying "Put this toy here" or "Put that toy there." Have them repeat back what they heard and ask them if they understand before moving on to the next step of cleaning up.
- Provide clear expectations and directions ahead of time so that your child knows what's expected of them and when it needs to be done by. They may need verbal descriptions or visual explanations or you physically helping them with the small step they struggle with before they can follow directions. This will help reduce any anxiety about missing out on something fun because they didn't finish getting ready in time!
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to get them assessed - so you know exactly what is going on with their sensory systems. That’s exactly what we do with you - together. Go to www.annelaurejackson.com to find out more.
If you have a child with a sensory processing difficulties, you're likely aware that it's a complicated condition. SPD is often misdiagnosed as attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity and treated with stimulants whereas if we can meet their sensory needs appropriately, attention and hyperactivity can be treated naturally. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. We have to get to know each individual’s sensory thumbprint!
Remember, You are not alone.
Many families struggle with SPD, but they may not know it. It's very common for parents to think that their child is just misbehaving - but it’s just not true. You have to know their sensory systems inside out in order to find the root of any behaviour, and that’s what we help with.
The good news is that we are willing to share our knowledge and experiences with the condition. We can provide support, answer questions, and offer insights into how your child might be feeling.
Ultimately, SPD is a condition with varied symptoms and not yet a universally accepted diagnosis. Some children’s systems will mature through it, while others have more permanent sensory issues. Many parents have also shown success in dealing with their child's sensory issues by using a variety of techniques, by following the Sensory Super System and coaching sessions equip them with skills to better deal with and understand their own child's sensory issues. The most important thing is to get a good assessment and then track your child's progress and explore specific ways to treat and help them cope with their symptoms.
You can also join our Free Facebook Community for parents and people like you who have Sensory issues just click here. The group is a group for all but is called Christian Sensory Support as it underpinned by Christian values.
We're also excited to let you know that we've created a new series of video and sensory guides for children from infancy to adulthood. They're designed to help you keep track of your child's development, give them the tools they need and provide an easy way to track their progress as they grow up.
We're offering these resources absolutely free! All you need to do is go to our site and from there you will see where you can get immediate access to:
- A copy of my Amazon #1 bestseller on sensory processing issues
- A sensory guide for each age group that helps parents understand how their children perceive the world around them and what their needs are at different ages
You are your child's first and most important ally in this journey, and it's an exciting one, filled with hope, discovery and a positive outlook on their future. By learning the steps outlined above to help them meet their sensory needs - whether it be through therapies, management strategies or appropriate home and school solutions, you can enhance their self-worth, social acceptance and self-esteem while improving their ability to learn. They will thrive with your support as they find their unique path toward success in life.
Please reach out to me with any questions, and again welcome. Let me hear from you soon!
Your Occupational Therapist
Anne Laure Jackson, Xx
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