Nikki White Children s Occupational Therapist Barnet Community Services

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1 Nikki White Children s Occupational Therapist Barnet Community Services

2 What is Occupational Therapy (OT)? An occupation is anything you do in your daily life. Anything meaningful or purposeful Eg. Getting dressed, making coffee, writing For kids playing, self care skills OT s work to help people manage their daily tasks.

3 Why do OTs deal with Sensory Processing? OTs are interested in any aspects of a person s functioning that is interfering with them being able to do daily tasks If a person has inefficient or dysfunctional sensory processing and modulation, then learning and participating in daily tasks can be extremely challenging.

4 The 7 Senses 7 senses that make up our sensory processing systems and these are divided up into the near and far senses or the internal and external senses. What are the seven senses?

5 The Far (external) Senses Vision where information is taken in through the eyes in the form of light, colour, shape and depth; Auditory (hearing) where information is taken in through the ears in the form of sound waves; Olfactory (smell) where information is taken in through the nose; Gustatory (taste) where information is taken in through the tongue in the form of flavour Tactile (touch) where information is primarily taken in through the skin and includes temperature, pressure, vibration and pain.

6 The Near (internal) Senses 2 less commonly known senses Information for these sensors comes from within our bodies: Proprioception an awareness of your body and where it is in space so where different parts of your body are in relation to each other and to the objects and people around you. Proprioceptive information comes through muscles, tendons and joints. Vestibular movement and balance and information comes to us through our inner ear. This tells us about how we move, balance and about gravity.

7 What is Sensory Processing? The way that our bodies take in information through our senses, and how this information is organised in our central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) in order for us to be able to understand, react and interact appropriately with the world around us. occurs over our entire life time, as we constantly engage with our environment and have new experiences, the most intense and important period of our sensory development occurs between the age of 0 6 years.

8 Sensory Processing How does it feel to have difficulties processing?

9 How does Sensory Processing impact on a child s development? Academic Learning Daily Living Skills Behaviour Language Visual Spatial relationship Attention Eye-hand Coordination Body Scheme Precise control of eye movements Reflex maturity Balance Awareness of 2 sides of the body Postural Adjustment Ability to screen input Motor Planning Smell Vision Hearing Taste Tactile Vestibular Proprioception Central Nervous System

10 Sensory Processing Difficulties As individuals, we all experience sensory information subjectively, for example motion sickness, noise sensitivity, texture sensitivities, thumb sucking. Sensory processing difficulties occur when information coming in from the senses is not interpreted efficiently, and the Central Nervous System is unable, or has difficulty, making sense of the incoming messages. A child may be confused by stimulation and not be able to respond appropriately to their environment.

11 Sensory Processing Difficulties It is important to understand that none of the senses work alone, all are intertwined and are constantly feeding backwards and forwards to each other. So when one of our senses are out of balance, more often than not other sensory areas will also be impacted on. Children with sensory processing or integration difficulties may demonstrate marked overreaction or under reaction or both to certain sensations.

12 Over-Reactive Children Some children experience sensations too intensely Sensations most of us take for granted as part of our everyday environment, to a child with a sensory processing difficulty, these sensations may be interpreted as unpleasant, distracting or overwhelming. Due to their decreased ability to tolerate certain sensations, they may react negatively or attempt to avoid those experiences and this is reflected in their behaviour.

13 Under-Reactive Children Some children may be under responsive or experience sensations less intensely than normal. These children may appear to have difficulty maintaining arousal and attention to tasks; may present as lethargic and disinterested and/or they may constantly seek sensation by fidgeting, moving about and find it difficult to be still. Their sensory needs are higher than the average child, and they require a lot of stimulation.

14 Sensory Processing Difficulties in Children Sensory processing difficulties can be hard to analyse because children can be over reactive to some sensations and under reactive to others. For example, a child may be very over reactive to visual stimuli This can lead to extreme distractibility as every little movement takes their visual attention from the task at hand to whatever is moving around them. However, when a child is over reactive they can find some sensations quite scary or threatening. The small sudden noise of a car horn can sound incredibly loud and unexpected and leave the child in a state of distress or high anxiety.

15 Sensory Processing Difficulties in Children Small group work: possible sensory problems you ve seen.

16 Assessment and Intervention

17 Management of Sensory Processing Difficulties Sensory Diet Our brain, through our senses, needs a balanced diet in order for us to be able to make sense of, and function in the world we live. This is a sensory diet. We need to experience a variety of sensations each and every day in order to keep our brain energised, organised, alert or calm. With a regular, balanced sensory diet we are better prepared to respond appropriately to the demands of the world we live in.

18 Management of Sensory Processing Difficulties Sensory Diet Our sensory needs fluctuate throughout the day. Just like food, some times we need a substantial meal, other times a light snack. When children are having difficulties with selfregulation, adults may need to assist these children to find the right type of activities to attain the appropriate level of alertness for their situation.

19 Sensory Diet: Calming & Alerting In order for children to focus their attention, their bodies need to be in an appropriate state of alertness in relation to the demands of the environment. If they are not in an appropriate state of alertness then their attention may be directed towards the wrong cues or may fail to alert at all. A balanced sensory diet containing both calming and alerting activities will help children maintain appropriate levels of alertness.

20 And Any questions, comments or thoughts

21 Next time.. The Sensory Profile

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