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If your child is not developing, behaving, functioning or learning effectively, it may be because their nervous system is not processing sensory input adequately. In my daily work as an Occupational Therapist, I work with many children who have sensory processing challenges. I help them to develop the daily skills they need to control their behaviour, function happily at home and learn effectively at preschool and school.
How does sensory processing affect children?
One of the main reasons we all have senses is to make sure that we are safe in our environment. When your child knows that his or her body is safe, they are able to achieve a calm and alert state. This allows your child to focus their attention on the aspects of their life that are important to their functioning.
If your child’s nervous system is not processing sensory input effectively, their ability to achieve a calm and alert state is compromised. This can get in the way of their social and emotional skills, as well and their learning and behaviour .
Signs of sensory processing problems in children
Does your child demonstrate any of these behaviours?
They are just some the indicators of poor sensory processing.
1) My child covers ears or responds negatively to sudden loud noises and/or noisy environments
2) In a noisy or busy environment, my child’s behaviour and ability to cope with sounds, lights, movement and people frequently deteriorates.
3) My child has difficulty coping with grooming activities: struggles during haircuts, having nails cut, face/hair washed: the child either say it hurts, cries and fights or cringes during these activities
4) My child avoids physical play experiences such as climbing, sliding, swinging
5) My child seeks physical play experiences far more than the average child
6) My child appears to be ‘on the go’ for much of the day
7) My child appears to go from ‘0 to 100’ when experiencing an emotion and may have frequent ‘meltdowns’
8) My child has difficulty calming down after being excited or upset
9) My child takes a long time to settle for sleep
10) My child is fussy about seams in socks, textures of clothes, tags; and either always wears shoes and socks or never does
This sounds like my child – What should I do?
If your child experiences several of the above difficulties (or they demonstrated some of these features when they were younger) it may be worth contacting an Occupational Therapist with experience in sensory processing to investigate further.
Even if your child no longer exhibits some of these features…it’s worth being on the lookout for re-emerging difficulties.
As the demands of school increase, kids who have underlying sensory processing issues can potentially struggle to pay attention, control their behaviour, listen and learn.
If your son or daughter has unresolved sensory issues, it’s possible that he or she is coping, but could have the potential to perform more effectively if their sensory processing issues are addressed.
Paediatric Occupational Therapist
© 2014 Kids First Children’s Services
Help your child now
Kids First’s Occupational Therapists have years of experience supporting children with sensory needs and our purpose-built OT gyms offer kids fun and effective solutions to their sensory processing problems.
To find out how we can help your child overcome their sensory issues, contact Kids First Children’s Services on (02) 9938 5419 to make an appointment with one of our fully qualified OTs.