Sensory integration is the body’s ability to take in information from the world around us and to make sense of it. Human beings have seven senses touch, taste, smell, vision, hearing, proprioception and vestibular.
Some individuals have difficulties making sense of the sensory information we receive from the environment and this then impacts upon their ability to function and complete activities successfully. Sensory processing difficulties (SPD) could include:
- Sensory seeking type behaviours i.e. fidgeting, “always on the go”, difficulties settling to sleep
- Sensory avoiding i.e. dislike of messy hands/play, nail and hair cutting, teeth brushing, feeding difficulties, upset with loud noises.
- Sensory based motor problems i.e. clumsy, difficulties with handwriting and other fine motor skills, difficulties with riding bike, swimming
Children who have difficulty processing sensory information may present with a variety of behaviours in different areas for example they may find teeth brushing and hair washing upsetting but always be on the go and very fidgety.
Sensory processing difficulties can be complex and affect a huge variety of day to day activities. In order to fully assess your child’s needs a detailed sensory assessment would be completed by an Occuptaional Therapist. This may include taking a detailed history from parents and if appropriate nursery or school. Observations would then be completed in a familiar environment to your child i.e their classroom or nursery setting. They may also be invited to our therapy space in order to continue the assessment.
Following the assessment a variety of different therapy options are available. A sensory programme would be formulated and this would be a collection of activities that are beneficial if completed on a daily basis. This is tailored to each child’s needs to best fit within their existing routine and activities. Sensory programmes can be taught to teaching and support staff if appropriate to ensure that your child is getting the appropriate sensory information that they require throughout the day. This is sometimes known as a Sensory Diet.
Additional play based therapy sessions can also be offered within the clinic or school setting. These sessions would aim to challenge and develop sensory processing skills within a playful, child led and supportive manner.