Our senses play an important role in how we can interact with the world around us. For children with sensory processing disorders, it can be a struggle to process sensory information in their environment. This is why learning about sensory integration will help you to know how best you can help your child.
What is Sensory Integration?
In short, sensory integration is the name for how a person’s brain interfaces with their environment through the senses. Sensory input, such as through vision and smell, delivers information the brain then interprets to understand what is going on in the environment and the body. For anyone with sensory processing disorders, such as autism, there could be an issue with one or more of the senses that may distort this perception. For example, children with overly-sensitive hearing can find loud sounds upsetting. Fortunately, there are ways that parents can teach and practice sensory integration skills for their children to have a more balanced experience.
Identify the Issue
The best place to start when working on sensory integration is to pinpoint, which senses your child is struggling with overstimulation or understimulation. Sensory processing issues can often lead to negative effects, from discoordination to learning difficulties. It’s important to note that humans have more than just the typical five senses of vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. There are also the vestibular and proprioception senses. The vestibular sense controls balance, and proprioception is the sense of body awareness. If your child does not see a therapist, then talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns. You can work with them to determine which areas your child may be struggling.
How to Help
Once you know where your child is struggling, you have overcome a big hurdle, and now you can help them. There are several ways that you can work on sensory integration with your child. Start by composing a sensory diet, which is a set of exercises, activities, and even items geared toward helping your child improve an area where they experience sensory difficulties. For example, if your child has anxiety because of a vestibular disorder, then you can get them a low-to-the-ground balance beam and help them walk across it to strengthen their balance. There are many different sensory toys that you can buy or make yourself that offer a lot of stimulation or provide an outlet for overstimulated children. And for times that your child might feel overstimulated, you can set aside part of a room as a sensory hideout, where they can take a break from their environment.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.