Imagine waking up every day to a world of chaos around you. Commotion in the background, messy floors and a general lack of direction…doesn't sound appealing, does it? The mere thought of chaos tends to make most of us tense. That's how a child with sensory processing disorder feels each and everyday, almost all the time. That is unless you are able to soothe them amidst all the chaos taking place in their mind. Which is why it's important not only to recognise the symptoms but also know how you can help your child cope with the things they find difficult. It could be simple tasks such as buttoning their shirt, putting on shoes or even playing catch ball.
Children with SPD often seek out sensory experiences that are familiar and do their best to avoid stimulation that is confusing. This is partly the reason for their multiple meltdowns when asked to perform seemingly simple tasks such as finishing their meals or clearing up their toys.
The Solution: Occupational Therapy with sensory integration
It's not as complicated as it sounds! Occupational Therapy (OT) is the most recommended route for children with SPD as therapists in this practice focus on helping children achieve independence in all areas of life.
Specifically, OT can help improve your child's cognitive and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem in the process. The therapy not only focuses on the child being able to reach age-appropriate milestones but also addresses challenges related to psychological and social aspects.
In simpler terms, the therapy helps address specific sensory issues that a child may have. Different play tools are used to address different senses. For example the therapy will enable your child to hold the pencil properly which may have been challenging earlier, or catch a ball, which may have been hampered due to poor motor skills. Special 'OT gyms' are usually created for children to help address sensory challenges in a playful environment. So while it might seem like your child is simply separating beans into jars of different colours, he is actually being assisted to meet his sensory requirements to improve his cognitive and motor skills. Over time, occupational therapy can help your child lead a normal school life and master day-to-day activities. You can consult your paediatrician for a recommendation of occupational therapists who can work out a specific therapy program for your child.
Getting the right help for your child can not only improve his quality of life and experiences but also make the family feel more connected and content. Small changes in the way you handle him can go a long way in helping him feel accepted and loved.