If your child has autism or another sensory processing disorder, then it means that they could be struggling with sensory integration. Sensory integration is a name for the way our brains process information that we receive through our senses. With good sensory integration skills, your child can use the information they take in and compose it in a way that helps them learn about themselves and their environment. Even if your child is struggling with a sensory processing disorder, there are several ways to help them improve their sensory integration.
Pinpoint the Trigger
Of the senses that we as humans use to understand our world, you are probably familiar with the five that include sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. But for children and adolescents who are developing their sensory integration, there are two other senses to factor in. The vestibular sense is their sense of balance and proprioception is the sense of overall body awareness. Some common signs of sensory processing issues can range from language and attention difficulties to a lack of coordination. And, depending on which area your child has difficulty with, certain situations may trigger a negative reaction. If you haven’t done so already, you should visit your pediatrician to diagnose the nature of your child’s sensory processing disorder. Then you will be able to look for what may be triggering them. For example, a child with a vestibular disorder will have problems maintaining their sense of balance. Trying to walk up or down the stairs may trigger anxiety for them because they may feel like they’re falling.
Sensory Integration Exercises
Identifying your child’s triggers is a very informative step that will help you craft a sensory diet for your child to cope, learn, and thrive with their sensory processing disorder. A sensory diet is a regimen of exercises and activities to address a specific area where your child is struggling. One example of a sensory exercise is the Wilbarger Protocol, which is a form of brushing therapy for children with tactile defensiveness. Another great option is taking your child to a sensory room. This is a safe environment for a child is encouraged to participate in sensory play activities that will help build their sensory integration abilities. Feel free to contact us about finding a sensory room in your area. The goal of sensory integration exercises is to help your child handle their triggers, whether it is by teaching them appropriate self-regulation habits or to reduce the negative effects of their disorder on daily activities like school. It’s easy to take for granted how complex it is for our brain to balance these seven senses, so remember to be patient and willing to learn about your child and they will succeed.
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 (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.