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Sensory Processing Disorder:

What You Should Know!

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Sensory Integration vs. Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Adapted from The Out-of-Sync Child, by Carol Stock Kranowitz

Sensory Integration/ Sensory Processing

Sensory Integration Dysfunction/ Sensory Processing Disorder

Ability to use our senses (sound, touch, vision, balance/movement, taste, smells) to organize information inside and outside of our bodies to learn and use in our daily lives This process occurs in our BRAIN (central nervous system-CNS); the brain systematically accepts important sensory information while filtering out unimportant information; it is automatic and subconscious! Typical sensory integration allows us to understand our environment, make sense of our world and understand survival in these environments. This process is automatic and begins at birth through adolescence. Typical sensory processing happens naturally and without effort.

Atypical, inefficient, or ineffective processing of basic sensory information causing confusion, anxiety and stress which negatively affects learning and results in deficits in social communication. The BRAIN (CNS) has difficulty filtering out unimportant sensory information and can either be hyper-responsive (overly responsive) or hyporesponsive (under responsive) to sensory stimuli. Difficulty processing sensory information causes one to struggle with understanding their environment (internal/external) and results in behaviors that are observed to be dysfunctional. Imagine, if everything in your environment seemed unpredictable and frightening, how could you survive daily situations? This process begins at birth through adolescence. However, without intervention, sensory integration is extremely stressful and inefficient.

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What should you do if you suspect your child has Sensory Processing Disorder?
Contact an Occupational Therapist (who has

experience in sensory integration):

Eval TX Home
OT will perform an complete evaluation and determine if a disorder exists and if therapy is required. OT will provide therapeutic activities with the purpose of desensitizing your childs atypical sensory responses to various stimuli (touch, taste, etc.).

OT will also help you create an appropriate sensory diet. As well as aid in creating appropriate modifications for home and school.

Courtesy of:

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Self-Regulation and Its Role in Sensory Processing:

Self-regulation: in the emotional sense, it is the ability to calm yourself

down when you're upset and cheer yourself up when you're down.

Children with Sensory Processing deficits STRUGGLE to self-regulate

their behavior as they are either hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory input!

Brain-Stimming (also known as meltdowns) is a term that refers to

ones inability to control his/her behaviors as a result of sensory processing difficulties. It is an emotional state in which a child may exhibit tantrum-like or self-injuring behaviors. remember:

As meltdowns are literally UNCONTROLLABLE we MUST

Learning CANNOT occur when one is in this emotional state! Negative consequences DO NOT teach a child to self-regulate! So

punishment for these behaviors is NOT APPROPRIATE or EFFECTIVE!!

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Self-Regulation Responses are on a Continuum Based on Our Sensitivity level to Sensory Stimuli:
Graphic courtesy of: Sensory Processing in Everyday Life at

Children with hypersensitivities to sensory information will register input at a lower level than we typically do and will SEEK out sensory information

Children who are hyposensitive will show sensitivity to even the smallest sensory inputs and will learn to AVOID sensory input if he/she cannot learn to process it.
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3 Things That Affect Self-Regulation:

How we interpret sensory information from our internal/ external environments

Sensory Input

Self- Regulation Arousal Level

Our level of heightened sensitivity; can be high or low

Personal strategies
How effective are our own calming strategies

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Ineffective Calming Strategies:

If your childs calming strategies are INEFFECTIVE

than he/she will demonstrate inappropriate behavioral responses to situations.

The goal would be to replace an ineffective strategy

with one that does actually provide your child with the ability to calm themselves.
The level of assistance in calming oneself will start out

very high with the goal to teach independent use and decrease scaffolding (help).
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Arousal level and Simple Accommodations that facilitate Self-Regulation:

Graphic courtesy of: Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners at

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Sensory Diet
nutrition for our Brain! Its a way to provide sensorimotor input in the

sensory area(s) of need for those with sensory processing disorder. will provide the proprioceptive feedback your child is seeking or requiring. frustration, and anxiety while encouraging self-regulation. may change as often as the child requires.

Sensory diets will consist of several sensory snacks or activities that

Sensory diet activities can provide a sense of calmness and reduce Sensory diets will include preferred situation-acceptable activities that An Occupational Therapist can assist parents in creating, updating and

maintaining an appropriate sensory diet for their child.

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Example of a Sensory Diet Appropriate at Home and School for Various Levels of Arousal:
Graphic courtesy of:

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Another Sensory Diet Example:

Graphics Courtesy of: Cut and Paste Sensory Diet by: Your Therapy Source at

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If you suspect your child has sensory processing difficulties:

Compare your child to the Sensory Processing Checklist. Express your concerns with your pediatrician.


Contact an OT with experience in sensory processing

disorder and request, at the very least, a consultation in order to determine the need for an evaluation!
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