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SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER (SPD)

This is a neurological condition that occurs when information from our senses has not been organised into appropriate responses. This creates challenges for children with SPD to process  and / or modulate sensory information such as sound, touch, movement gained from their environment. This can lead to a negative impact on a child’s ability to interact in different environments and complete daily activities.

There are 3 components of dysfunction that can occur with the sensory integration process:

  • Sensory Modulation Disorder: is a problem with translating sensory messages into regulated behaviours that match the nature and intensity of the sensory information.
  • Sensory-Based Motor Disorder: is a problem with planning, moving, stabilising a sequence of movements in response to sensory demands.
  • Sensory Discrimination Disorder: is a problem with identifying similarities and differences between a variety of sensations.

Common Features found in children experiencing SPD:

  • Demonstrates a elevated or under reactivity to sensations i.e. sound, touch or movement, pain.
  • Challenges regulating behavioural and emotional responses e.g. increased tantrums, impulsive behaviours, easily frustrated.
  • Difficulties with attention and concentration.
  • Difficulties with gross and fine motor skills i.e. presents as clumsy, immature coordination, balance and motor planning skills, and/or poor handwriting skills.
  • Erratic sleep patterns.
  • Displays excessive movement. Seeks out intense pressure (e.g. constant spinning, running, jumping, crashing in objects/people).
  • Avoids movement based equipment (e.g. swings, slides).
  • Delayed communication and social skills.
  • Difficulties with transitioning between tasks or accepting changes in routine.

Treatment and Therapy:

At Kings college hospital, your child will be supported by a multidisciplinary team consisting of Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Speech and Language Therapists to provide an extensive range of interventions for the management of SPD. Each child’s unique set of strengths and challenges will be determined and a comprehensive intervention plan will be developed. This may include the following strategies:

  • Physical skill development: Developing stability, strength and coordination to enable a child to participate in a multitude of activities.
  • Sensory diet: To provide sensory feedback to the body to enable self-regulation.
  • Recognise triggers: Identify and educate the child’s adult carers (parents, teachers) of the triggers that spark unhelpful sensory reactions.
  • Alert (Engine) program to promote to self-regulation through sensory and cognitive strategies.
  • O.R.E program uses motor components, oral organization, respiratory demands, and eye contact to assist with sensory regulation.
  • The Wilbarger Protocol (Deep Pressure Proprioceptive Technique) is a therapy program designed to reduce sensory or tactile defensiveness and assist with sensory regulation.
  • School transition:Providing additional support in the transition into school and liaising with teachers as required.
  • Behaviour management:Teaching and supporting families to manage challenging behaviours.

 

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