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Sensory Processing: What is Sensory Integration? How does it impact my child? What can I do?

Updated: Mar 2, 2023


What is Sensory Processing?

  • The way your baby or child's nervous system gets info from their seven senses.

  • For some children, the info they get makes the right motor or behavioral responses.

  • For other children, when too much information comes in the nervous system can't keep up and it causes a "traffic jam."

  • Seven senses include sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell, vestibular (tells where the body is), and proprioceptive(tells the brain how to move in an environment).

What does it look like?

  • Possible issues due to sensory integration problems could look like:

  • Jumping a lot, pushing/bumping into things, dropping/knocking things over.

  • Overly sensitive to sounds or easily distracted by noises.

  • Reacting negatively to certain textures of food or clothing.

  • Hard time doing daily life tasks.

  • Craving movement or putting everything in their mouth.


How can this impact your child?

  • Can impact how your child is able to function in any and every part of their life.

  • Can produce negative behaviors as a result of their body trying to make sense of it all.

  • For babies, it can cause a resistance to cuddling or swaddling.

  • For toddlers who are over-stimulated, it can cause anxiety that can lead to temper tantrums.

  • For children and adolescents, it can make completing daily tasks like dressing, bathing, and eating more difficult. It can also interfere with their ability to learn and concentrate in school.

What can OT do ?

  • Develop goals with you to address your child's individual needs.

  • Help you understand what is going on with your child and how you can help.

  • Give you tangible ideas to implement at home to allow your child to succeed.

  • Teach your child the skills they need through play and daily activities.

  • Design activities to promote the development of their sensory and motor systems.

How can you help?**

  • Talk to your doctor about early intervention.

  • Keep track of what causes your child to have reacted or behaved negatively.

  • Talk to your Occupational Therapist (OT)to help figure out what works for your child.

  • All children are different and what worksfor one may not work for another.

  • You can help calm your child or givethem the input that they are craving.

  • For example, blowing bubbles, rocking,swaying, or deep pressure could all becalming to a child.

  • Giving your child input could look likebouncing on a ball, jumping up and down,climbing, pushing heavy objects, andeating crunchy foods.

  • Incorporate sensory age-appropriate playlike:

  • Backpacks with their favorite items.

  • Painting

  • Food play

  • Playing with shaving cream, water,sand, rice, etc.

  • Animal walks/crawls

  • Obstacle courses with jumping and/or spinning.

** discuss these with your OT to make sure the above recommendation will work with your child.

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