Monday, March 19, 2012

She's so SENSORY -Part 1

So, in the past, I've often made comments about Keifer receiving Occupational Therapy for her "sensory" issues. This was a huge part (and still is) of our lives! When she was a baby/toddler, we always commented on how dramatic Keifer was during every situation we were in. Looking back, that drama now makes sense- she was interpreting her world differently than we were through her SENSES, and hopefully- reading the information below will help you understand a little more about what WE have been living. It might also trigger some "aha" moments in your own children, as most kids seem to have SOMETHING that is "sensory" about them.
Also, to add, I'm an Early Childhood Special Education teacher, so by identifying this is my OWN CHILD, it's been helpful for parents to relate with me and for me to RELATE TO OTHER PARENTS, as we have our daily struggles at home with Keifer.

We did receive outside OT services for Sensory Integration (and her funky pencil grasp) for 1 full year. She was discontinued for meeting her goals after one year. It's not that we don't have work to do with her. I'll talk about it more in my next post - the ones with Pictures! :)

Sensory processing disorder
is usually recognized in early childhood or adolescence but may be seen throughout the lifespan. These children do not “outgrow” the problem. Difficulties continue into adulthood, although sometimes severity of symptoms may become less apparent as the child learns managing techniques.
Children with sensory processing disorder have difficulty with:
• Managing anxiety
• Handling high stress situations
• Dealing with frustration
• Staying on tasks to finishing point
• Effectively using fine and gross motor skills

When comparing children’s sensory processing problems with coping abilities, the sensory processing problems were mostly related to the child’s difficulty with their ability to:
• Handle new situations
• Change plans / transition
• Appropriately learn new situations
• Understand independence and dependence
• Use self-defense successfully
• Have an proper activity level
• Control impulses

Sensory processing disorder is often associated with other diagnoses such as:
• Pervasive developmental disorder/ autism spectrum
• Learning disabilities/ attention deficit disorder
• Language disorders
• Behavioral disorders
• Anxiety disorder/ depression

Children with sensory processing disorder may display the following behaviors:
• May not like messy things or getting dirty
• May not like to be touched, hugged or cuddled • Likes to touch objects and people to the point of becoming annoying
• May frequently put things in his/her mouth
• Refuses to brushing teeth
• May gag during tooth brushing

Sensory seeking children appear to desire touch because they need sensation that is intense, frequent and/or of long interval. Touch systems around the head and face may contribute to over-sensitive to touch, leading to poor tolerance of anything around the mouth.

Sensory Under-Sensitivity: Children with under sensitivity do not respond to and may seem uninterested or unresponsive to sensory experiences.

These children may exhibit the following traits:
• The child seems weak, slumps, and leans on people or furniture.
• The child has low energy and has a hard time waking up.
• The child gets tired easily, lies around and appears to have little motivation to walk around.
• The child does things very slowly.
• The child seems depressed or neutral.

Sensory Over-Sensitivity: Children with over sensitivity respond to sensations from just one sensory system faster, with more intensity or for a longer period than typical peers.
• The child responds negatively or emotionally to loud people or places.
• The child has trouble concentrating in noisy environments
• The child frequently hums or makes other strange noises.

Some children who are overwhelmed by their environment over-react to sounds or even ‘shut them out’ so that it seems like they are not hearing, while other kids make sounds to block the noises in their environment. These children are sensory seeking and seem to have a craving for strong levels of sensation. Children with over-sensitivity may become uncomfortable with changes to new situations.

Sensory Modulation Disorder: This sensory processing disorder causes problems with modifying responses to sensory inputs resulting in withdrawal or strong negative responses to sensations that do not usually bother typical peers. Problems are often seen in irregular emotions that are made worse by stress, and vary with the situation.
Signs of Sensory Modulation Disorder
• Easily distracted by sounds
• Extremely sensitive to sounds
• Difficulty with falling or staying asleep
• Reacts defensively to being touched lightly or unexpectedly
• Easily distracted by visual stimuli
• Overly active
• Outbursts of anger

Sensory Discrimination Disorder Children with sensory discrimination disorder have trouble in recognizing and interpreting differences or similarities in the nature of stimuli. It is commonly seen with problems in processing sensations from touch, muscles, joints and head movements (vestibular or inner ear sensations).

Signs of Sensory Discrimination Disorder
• The child hits or pushes other people
• The child grips objects too tightly or uses too much strength
• The child frequently drops things or knocks things over
• The child mouths, licks, chews, or sucks on non-food items
• The child craves movement, such as spinning or jumping around
• The child is afraid of heights/ swings or slides
• The child has poor balance

Postural-Ocular Disorder: Postural-Ocular Disorder is a problem with control of posture or quality of movements seen in low muscle tone or joint instability and/or poor functional use of vision. These children have difficulty stabilizing the body while resting/moving and trouble with using both sides of the body together. This disorder is often seen with vestibular (the inner ear) problems.

Signs of Postural-Ocular Disorder
• The child seems weaker than other children
• The child wears out easily
The child often moves around repeatedly
• The child slumps while sitting
• The child has difficulty making eye contact/ following with the eyes, such as reading
• The child seems clumsy he/she may fall and tumble frequently
• The child may seek mItalicovements of swinging or spinning

Dyspraxia: Children with dyspraxia have trouble with planning, sequencing & executing unfamiliar actions resulting in awkward & poorly coordinated motor skills typically seen with a sensory processing deficit. It is usually seen with difficulty doing new activities or those that are done infrequently.

Children with dyspraxia may be slow at learning a new sequence of movement. Children who have dyspraxia have difficulty figuring out what movement they need to make, planning how to move and accomplishing a plan. They need to be given more time between transitions.

Signs of Dyspraxia
• Difficulty following multi-step directions
• Strong desire for sameness or routines
• Has an awkward pencil grasp
• Has poor handwriting
• Dislikes or hesitant to participate in sports
• Easily frustrated
• Problems with daily life skills like dressing or using utensils
• Trouble figuring out how to get on swings or slides, play with new toys, get dressed or make certain speech sounds
• Frequently trips, falls, bumps into things and drops toys
• Difficulty imitating simple movements with his hands, arms, legs or mouth
• Difficulty with changes in his routine or schedule
• May show separation anxiety / difficulty separating from caretaker

Occupational therapists play a key role in the conventional treatment of SID. By providing sensory integration therapy, occupational therapists are able to supply the vital sensory input and experiences that children with SID need to grow and learn. Also referred to as a "sensory diet," this type of therapy involves a planned and scheduled activity program implemented by an occupational therapist, with each "diet" being designed and developed to meet the needs of the child's nervous system. A sensory diet stimulates the "near" senses (tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive) with a combination of alerting, organizing, and calming techniques. Motor skills training methods that normally consist of adaptive physical education, movement education, and gymnastics are often used by occupational and physical therapists. While these are important skills to work on, the sensory integrative approach is vital to treating SID. The sensory integrative approach is guided by one important aspect-the child's motivation in selection of the activities.

By allowing them to be actively involved, and explore activities that provide sensory experiences most beneficial to them, children become more mature and efficient at organizing sensory information.

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