Occupational Therapists cover a broad scope of practice; however, one thing that we are commonly known to help with is children with sensory processing difficulties.
Sensory processing difficulties can come in many different forms, whether it be a dislike of wearing clothes, sensitivity to loud noises or avoiding certain food textures. Significant struggles in sensory processing can impact a child’s ability to participate and engage in daily activities successfully. Sensory processing difficulties is also known as Sensory Processing Disorder.
When sensory processing difficulties impact a child’s daily life, occupational therapists can implement strategies to help children stay regulated and help them manage their sensory needs.
When you initially come and see an OT for your child’s sensory difficulties, the process may look a little like this:
The Initial Session
Firstly you may have an initial session with your OT. They will ask lots of questions to try and get an idea of your child’s sensory needs and how this is impacting their daily functioning. They may also contact you to fill out a sensory assessment to find out your child’s sensory profile. The sensory evaluation will help to understand better how they respond to various sensory inputs.
You should then be able to sit down with your OT and set some goals for your sessions. Goal Setting is a crucial step in the process as it helps to guide the therapy and ensures that you are working towards meaningful outcomes for your child.
Building a Relationship
Your OT will then meet your child to observe their sensory behaviours and build a trusting relationship with them. Sometimes therapy can be tricky and so a trusting relationship helps your child to feel safe and secure in this environment!
Start of Therapy Sessions
In therapy sessions, your OT will select specific activities to help target and manage your child’s sensory needs. The sessions usually look like a multi-sensory approach where children engage in various sensory activities to help stay regulated and manage their emotions. It’s important to remember that this part of the process takes time. Your child may have been dealing with these difficulties for a long time, and they are going to take time to manage. This part of the process can involve some problem solving to determine what works best for your child. Therefore, it’s essential to keep communicating with and reporting back to your OT on how things are changing at home and school. This collaborative dynamic will be most successful in the long run.
Some strategies may also be given for you to implement at home. Implementing strategies at home is another vital part of the process as continuing strategies at home will result in better outcomes for your child! These strategies may include some sensory-based activities to assist with regulation, as well as emotional management strategies to help your child manage in their day to day life when they may feel overwhelmed.
Dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder can be very overwhelming for both yourself and your child. You may also find the therapy process to be challenging at times. Despite this, the outcomes can be gratifying as you strive towards positive engagement and participation for your child.
If you have any questions about how we can help your child with Sensory Processing Disorder, call us at 02 9913 3823 for an initial session with one of our excellent therapists.