It is estimated that five percent of children in the general population demonstrate difficulties with sensory modulation.
Traditionally we think of our five senses, sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. However we actually have seven senses, the additional two being proprioception (joint awareness) and vestibular (movement).
Children with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) have disruptions somewhere within the sensory integration process that can manifest in many ways such as clumsiness, poor writing or math skills, poor emotional or social skills, and/or anxiety.
Everyone has sensory preferences such as liking or disliking rollercoasters, spicy foods or listening to the radio while reading. Sensory Processing Disorder occurs when these preferences begin to interfere with our daily function.
For parents who recognize this issue in their children, it is important to discuss the signs with their child’s doctor. Many children with SPD are referred to outpatient rehabilitation to begin working with an occupational therapist to improve their condition.
Occupational therapists can assess an individual’s response to sensory information from the body, the environment, and the individual’s ability to come up with tactics to execute responses to familiar and unfamiliar situations, in a way they can function in everyday activities. They then begin teaching the child sensory strategies by providing interventions, known as ‘just right challenges’, that facilitate effective sensory processing and development.
Cone Health Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation Center offers free Sensory Processing Disorder screenings for children throughout the community. To find out more, call (336)274-7956.
Megan Kaufman is a licensed occupational therapist and team supervisor for Cone Health Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. Megan received a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2001, and earned a Masters of Arts in nonprofit management at High Point University in 2010. She is also certified in Sensory Integration and Praxis Test.