On Sensory Issues, Therapies
I was asked in a previous post about sensory issues today. I’d like to talk about this because it is important to understand how sensory processing manifests and what you can do about it. I cannot be exhaustive here because of the wealth of sensory sensitivities.
I’d like to suggest a few products/therapies before I get started though. I’ll try to explain what they are, but please understand I haven’t used all of them personally.
- The Eating Game ($14.99 online delivery, diy) – This is the DIY version of The Eating GAME which is a system to create meals and give your child more control over their food intake. You will have to build it yourself, so need laminator sheets and a binder and Velcro. It will be cheaper than buying the whole thing created.
- Therapy Brush ($4.99) – This is used if you’re doing a brushing protocol. There are some variations on the brushing protocol, but depending on the child, it can calm by giving light touch and deep pressure.
- Peltor Kids Headphones ($14.00) – This is if your child has auditory sensitivities. (This is also good for adults, but in adult sizes, obviously.) It depends on the pair you get, but these can block anywhere from all sound to most ambient sounds. (See a video of autistic person who uses headphones.)
- Seamless Socks ($6.95/ea) – These are for people who are tactile sensitive.
- Body Sox (varies) – We have one of these for Daniel. The school does too. And every school he has been in since he started elementary school. It provides deep pressure, and movement, and is a ‘heavy’ activity.
- Weighted Blanket (varies) – Again, deep pressure. Please make sure you continue to check your child, do not give too much weight.
- Fidgets (varies) – it depends on the fidget you get. I have a wide range for myself and the kids. Co-workers have different ones themselves. You can get some at your local dollar store, or Wal-Mart, or on Amazon.
So, this may be disconnected because I’m struggling with sensory stuff myself right now. Mainly that I need deep pressure and my auditory processing is shot for the rest of the day.
So first things first, like I said in a comment to the other blog post, if the therapy or practitioner that they can cure a processing issue in a set amount of time (and generally, at all), they are lying. You should run far far away.
Next, the first thing you should always do is craft a sensory diet. This is not a food diet, this is plan/schedule for each day that gives sensory input throughout the day. Is your child super-energized waking up? Then they should be given a calming activity. Or maybe by mid-afternoon, they are tired and dragging, perhaps more input, or a certain type of input can wake them up.
Another thing to think about are different types of protocols. Brushing protocol is one of those things. It can help give a calming sensation to some kids. It’s pretty important to keep up doing it in regular intervals during the day. Some kids, like Stephen, is does the opposite. Stephen becomes super energized.
For things like auditory processing, I think the listening therapy is good for some, but I have not seen it actually reverse processing issues. I saw quite a bit of success with my own son when you coupled it with other activities though. I suspect though that the music just gave him something to focus on while he did the less desirable tasks. I may be wrong though.
The reason I suggested The Eating Game above is mainly for kids who have tactile mouth sensitivities. It can often be quite difficult to get kids to try new foods. This gives them a little more control with it. As well, it helps keep their diet well rounded.
I think the most important thing is to keep an eye on behavior that suggests sensory issues are happening. Some of the leading ones are avoidance and hyperactivity. These suggest to me that you either need to remove stimuli or change activities. With exposure, some people can learn to cope with sensory sensitivities. Things like fidgets can often help as a coping strategy. I highly recommend slowed exposure from a young age, but understand that some kids are probably older than young age, which means some catching up. I’d still recommend slowing exposure. Once you see limits, giving access to alternate methods of coping past sheer mental effort should be introduced. And at least now, there are cheap mp3 players, or even used iPods to help drown out the huge amount of auditory distractions that come.