Sensory processing is a subconscious and automatic neurological process that occurs in every person at all stages of life. Our brains take in information through our senses and organise it so that we are able to respond appropriately to particular situations and environmental demands. Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body position, vision, smell, taste, sound and the pull of gravity.
For most people, sensory processing develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. When a person has good sensory processing skills then they are able to integrate information automatically and efficiently. But for some people, sensory processing does not develop as efficiently as it should and can affect activities of daily living, academic achievement, behaviour or social participation.
Children can present with different types of sensory difficulties
Hyper (over) sensitive
- Fear of heights
- Dislike of touch experiences eg nail cutting, messy play, hair cutting
- Dislike of loud and sudden sounds
- Avoidance of playground equipment (swings and slides)
- Avoidance of certain foods and food textures, colours, temperature, etc.
Hypo (under) sensitive
- Appears to have no fear or doesn’t feel pain
- Seeks movement or touch opportunities (fidgets, rocks, runs about, leans on peers)
- Mouths or chews things
- Poor attention to the environment or people around
Motor Planning (praxis)
- Appears clumsy
- Difficulty creating movement ideas
- Difficulty planning and executing new movements
- Slouches at desk
- Fidgets/difficulty sitting in one position for extended period of time
- Impact on fine motor coordination & ball skills
- Poor balance
Sensory integration provides occupational therapists with a framework for assessing and treating children who present with the difficulties outlined above.
How we work to support your child’s sensory processing needs
Sensory Workshops for parents/ schools, where we share information, ideas and strategies and problem-solve together with an occupational therapist to overcome some of these difficulties.
Supporting students’ self-regulation skills through the Alert Programme and Zones of Regulation programmes in schools (jointly with SLT professionals).
- Consultation sessions in school or at home to support increased participation in daily routines and activities in those settings.
- Recommending environmental adaptations and equipment that can support participation at home and school.
- Training & education sessions in school (Camden Schools Training Offer).
For further information on sensory processing difficulties, please browse the resources below:
- National Autistic Society – Sensory Differences: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/behaviour/sensory-world.aspx
- Council for Disabled Children. Information for parents on Sensory differences and approaches to intervention: https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/help-resources/resources/sensory-differences-and-approaches-intervention
- Zones of Regulation http://www.zonesofregulation.com/index.html
- The Out of Sync Child (Carol Kranowitz)
- Building Bridges through Sensory Integration (Yack, Aquilla & Sutton)
For more information or referrals, please contact Betty Hutchon, Head of Children’s Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, at email: firstname.lastname@example.org