Watch: Everything you need to know about Sensory Processing Disorder
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Hey Parents! This is Ash Bhattacharya here from Autism 360. Now I’ve got a question for you today. Have you ever wondered why our kids often behave the way they do? Why would they find it so hard to sit for more than five minutes at a place? Why would they always be jumping, climbing onto stuffs, you know, and be so hyperactive?
Why would they be licking or smelling weird objects? Why would they be so fussy eaters? Why would they find the toilet seat so uncomfortable? Why would they have a meltdown when there is a bright light or a loud sound?
Is it the way their brain is wired or is it that our kids are trying to tell us something? Now, very recently we ran a workshop with our private Autism 360 clients to uncover the real reasons why our kids behave the way they do and more often they are not, it is due to the way they process sensory inputs around them.
So what I’m going to share with you today is, the entire workshop that we ran with the parents when we are going to walk through how sensory integration works and how you can actually decode your child’s sensory needs to put in a proper sensory diet, which essentially means a set of activities that you can overlay on top of each other so that your child feels composed, calm and feels well balanced as far as his or her sensory needs are concerned.
Now this is going to be a long video, but the good news is that at the end of this video there is no offer, nothing for you to buy or no sales page or nothing. Okay. This is just pure actionable strategies that we are going to share with you today and I hope you are going to enjoy it.
So without further ado, I will play the presentation now and I hope you really find it useful and do let me know your thoughts and feedback.
Sensory Processing Disorder–
Alright! So when we think about, sensory processing disorder, and one of the reasons I really wanted to talk about this topic is because it’s fun, but it’s important. And last group session I talked about executive functioning.
So I think it’s really important for parents to understand like all of those things that sort of get in the way of our kiddos being able to follow directions, carry out a task, communicate effectively. And so that executive functioning was the one that I addressed on last group session.
And this time it’s the sensory processing component. And a lot of times when we think of sensory processing, we think of, you know, five senses, right? Taste, touch, smell, hearing what we see. But it’s so much more. It’s really so much more. And often I will, you know, those of you who I’m coaching, I will say, you know, what are your child’s sensory needs?
And a lot of times parents will say, well, I don’t have any sensory needs. They don’t, um, they’re not bothered by, um, sound and they don’t. Um, they’re not afraid to touch things. And so then we talk about how it’s so much more than that, right?
It’s not just the cover your ears, sensory overload and sensory overload is real. It is not something that kids are just creating and adults talk about it very openly in terms of the struggles and challenges they have as adults as well.
And it has to do with, you know, the pain, the temperature, taste, smell, all of those little things that can sort of just you know make it really hard for our kiddos to navigate through their environment and navigate through their day.
And a lot of times they’re misunderstood or they’re punished in school because it’s not really, um, no one is understanding that they really are on sensory overload and it’s not just easy to just sort of get over it.
It’s a neurological challenge for them. So if we think about the sensory differences, we talk about the visual, right? Kids who may be visually STEM or some kids are very sensitive to sunlight. Uh, you know, one of the reasons that kiddos do not like to eat at school in the cafeteria is because there are so many smells.
And for kids who really have challenges regulating their old factory system, those smells will just disrupt their ability to just function in the cafeteria. And so sometimes the easiest out is to just not eat lunch, right?
Because it’s not going to be a pleasurable experience. The taste, that’s where we have a lot of kids who have, um, sort of preferred foods and not wanting to explore new foods. That vestibular component in regards to balance and that perceptive upper deceptive component, that body awareness, not knowing where their body is in relation to space, you know, that running, running, running, jumping, jumping, jumping.
All of those things are, you know, sensory seeking behaviors. And then of course we have the tactile, the touch, and then the auditory. It’s too loud. Um, for some kiddos it’s always fun when, it was like to sing, but then they don’t want us to sing. And that’s because their Auditory system is processing intonations or your tone is not being processed the same as them.
There is when they can control theirs. And I want to quickly just touch on the concept of the tactile in regards to a myth where, you know, people say, Oh, kids with autism don’t like to be touched or he doesn’t have autism. He likes to hug people.
It’s really not about that at all. It’s not about people wanting to be hugged, not wanting to be hugged, not wanting to be touched. It’s really about processing that tactile information properly.
And if they cannot process it properly, then they’re going to avoid it. Right? Like I wouldn’t want to be touched from behind either if I didn’t process the information as appropriate. A lot of times our kids will hug us on their terms because then they’re ready for that input. So we have to consider that and think about that.
Especially when those relatives come over and want to give all the kids hugs and kisses and, and our kid, it was kind of running in the other room. Um, just tell the relatives, don’t take it personal. It’s really not about them. It is all about their sensory differences and processing that information.
And so this one, picture it’s one of my favorites to just sort of explain or sort of demonstrate, you know, all of these senses are just being processed at one time and if you have a system that’s not processing efficiently, not processing correctly, then it’s going to be a traffic jam and then misinformation and then what our kiddos do.
They react inappropriately. What we considered to be inappropriate, right? I running or screaming or cutting their ears, different things that they do to cope with those, circumstances where the input is just not comfortable for them, but it’s not being processed correctly.
So let’s talk about those in a little bit more detail. And it’s really not just as simple in terms of Oh, child has sensory processing disorder and sensory processing disorder can be, um, a child can have sensory processing disorder and not have a diagnosis of autism. Uh, however, I have found that the majority of children, with autism diagnosis, have sensory processing disorder.
Types of Sensory Processing Disorder–
It just looks different in every kiddo. And so those kiddos are really struggling with the demands of those day to day activities at school, getting ready for school, getting ready for bed, all those things that we, we don’t think about how that’s really a big deal sensory wise, but it really is.
And so when a child gets an appropriate evaluation in regards to sensory processing disorder, there are three categories and one is sensory modulation, a sensory based motor disorder, and then the sensory discrimination disorder. And so those are the three subcategories that kids can fall under. And typically an occupational therapist is the person that can do the evaluation for that and provide the sensory integration therapy.
However, I am a certified sensory enrichment therapist, so I have a lot of training and knowledge. Um, and my interest was because I just found that it worked for my students. Alright! so in regards to sensory modulation disorder, these are our kiddos who are like sensory seeking, sensory seeking, jumping money. Uh, you know, I love when I have a coaching session and a parent says, well, I provided you know, trampoline time and they jumped for, you know, 45 minutes and they still wanted more.
They need more. It’s hard to sort of conceptualize how much sensory input our kiddos need in order to be regulated, but they really need a lot. Um, every child’s different. Um, however our little kiddos, right, because they’re also neurologically immature, they are just very dysregulated.
And then you have those kiddos who are very under responsive to sensory stimulation or very over-responsive. So those are kids that, you know, cover their ears because it sounds too loud, even though it’s not technically too loud, they’re processing it a little bit differently. Or kiddos who will talk really loud or make a lot of noise, auditory information that they’ll do not, this is not related to verbal STEM.
This is, you know, there are a lot of kids who will make lots of repetitive loud, loud noises or that wonderful high pitch scream that we’re all familiar with that we’d heard at one time. which is a very distinct type of scream that our kiddos can do and then we also have kiddos who are, you know, when they’re over-responsive someone says, you know, the tactile defensive, they’re sensory defensive, which technically defensive is the correct term because when you’re defensive, you know, you’re, you’re protecting yourself.
And so that’s where that tactile information of someone coming up to you from behind or someone touching you and a child either taps their hand away or just walks away because, um, they’re just, their system is over-responsive to it and they can’t process it correctly.
And of course, the kiddos who are sensory defensive who won’t touch things, like they just don’t want to explore shaving cream or not really comfortable with walking on grass. Um, you know, all those different textures, even in regards to the foods that they eat, some kiddos will stick to the same sensory type food because it provides them with the input that works for them and they will avoid the foods that, um, sort of, they’re over-responsive too, so it’s not comfortable.
So they’re just going to defend themselves and stay away from it. All right. Let me talk about kiddos who are um, that sensory based motor disorder. Those are those chaos where they are they’re not getting that information in regards to their body in relation to space. So you know, you have the kids that they’re more output.
Like some kids are sitting really hard on the sofa or they’re um, sort of appearing to just fall to the floor because they really are not getting enough information to actually know where their body is and to be able to process and integrate that in their brain to have the sort of um, appropriate motor output. And this affects handwriting.
You know, when our kids can’t really hold the pencil, but what do we see? What does the teacher see? They don’t want to do their work. They don’t want to do handwriting. He hates it when I make him write his name. And those of you who know my stance on, you know, attaching the feeling to it.
Technically yes, they don’t like practicing handwriting but it’s not because they’re against handwriting. It’s because sensory wise, they really are struggling with how much pressure to put on the pencil, where the their hand is in relation to the paper and making those movements.
And so if it’s really, really hard and you’re a really little kiddo, I mean even older kids, but if you’re a young kiddo and you can’t communicate that you’re going to do what? Resist, throw the paper on the floor, you’re going to, escape that, uh, activity because it’s really, really just brain-wise extra, extra hard because they’re just not integrated and they’re, um, they’re not integrating that information properly to actually carry out that motor skill.
And those are those kids also that are kind of sludging in their chair. Um, I always recommend, you know, a bean bag or, various, um, ways for kids to be able to sit in class so that they can have that, support so that they can attend a little bit better.
And what happens is a lot of times teachers and parents of course, if you’re not understanding a sensory based motor disorder component, you are thinking that a child who slouching is not paying attention, right? Because we relate paying attention to sitting upright and that means they’re really listening.
But if you put them in a beanbag and they’re supported and they don’t have to keep working on that court because it’s not really the strength that it needs to be, you would be amazed how the bean chair laying on the floor, they can actually take an information and learn much better that way than having to sit up in their chair, which most of the time they don’t end up sitting in their chair.
Right. We end up seeing all of these behaviors that interfere in the learning process. So you know, I wanted to go over this so that you could start thinking about, Hmm, why is there, why is my child really struggling with some of these activities isn’t really related to the sensory processing disorder.
And it’s not just, Oh, they just don’t want to do it. All right. And then we have the sensory discrimination disorder, which, you know, these kids really are. And this is the majority of our kiddos, um, in regards to, um, the autism spectrum, just processing and understanding the information, you know, uh, that what they see for some of our kids, that visual perception.
And it’s not, you know, I know we use visuals, but the visual perception can be just the order of things on a paper. Right? And that’s why it’s important to understand how to structure information for your child to actually be able to complete a task that’s paper and pencil, because that visual perception just could not be working as efficiently.
You know, the auditory perception, all of that brings a lot of problems with following directions. We wonder why they’re not following directions. And it’s because auditorily, it’s really a struggle because of the sensory discrimination.
So that’s what we have those visuals, right? So they can really get that communication through the visuals. And then of course, a tactile. And, uh, you know, I have little tricks and tips that I teach parents on how to get our kiddos to explore different, tactile. information just so that they can, um, help their system grow. Now it’s not the end of the world if a child doesn’t play a shaving cream.
Uh, but we don’t want our kids to miss out on something that they want to participate in because of that sensory discrimination component in regards to that tactile sensation. So we don’t force it, but we try to do little things in order to engage our kids to explore different things and then they can decide whether or not it’s something that is comfortable or not.
All right. I talk all the time about a sensory diet. And I have to really careful when I write, sensory diet as a recommendation because, uh, sometimes it’s misperceived as a diet pertaining to food and it’s not, it is a list of sensory activities that can help a child feel calm and since sorely organized that then allows them to attend to learn. And, um, as my grandma used to say, behave right, their very best ability.
Um, so it’s, it’s thinking about providing our kiddos with activities that are specific to their individual needs. And a lot of times, you know, you’ll see in Facebook posts, Oh, you know, my child, you know, does this, which I get them for Christmas. Every child is different. Some kiddos need a trampoline, other children don’t need a trampoline. Some kiddos need, you know, a squishy other kids. It’s not something that is going to be, um, necessary for their individual needs.
So it really is important to get your child’s, um, sensory profile provided so that you can give them exactly what they need so that they can be calm, they can be sincerely organized so that they can do the attending and the learning. And you know, all of that builds their communication skills. And that’s important communication.
So important. And so I had a picture of my little guy that if you know, you will see in any of my modules, I have examples of this little kiddo because this was a picture and he was on a swing getting some sensory input. And all I thought was what is going on in that beautiful mind of yours because he was so calm and, and just so regulated in that swing. Um, and so I liked it. Put that picture just to remind everyone how our kiddos can feel calm when we provide them with the input that they need.
When Do I have My child to participate In Sensory Activities —
All right, my favorite question, when do I have to provide my child, teen or young adult? Um, when do they provide? When do I, um, what do they participate in these sensory activities? When do I provide it? That is a question that for every child is different.
However, every day with consistency and creativity, right? So every day it should be on their schedule, part of their routine, participating in sensory activities. Consistency is key. And the reason consistency is key. Just think of anything else that we are trying to build, right?
If we’re trying to build our health right, we’re going to consistently provide it with foods that are healthy. If we are going to try to build, um, you know, our muscle or exercise or you know, whatever it is that you’re trying to do, consistency is what helps to build, um, that, that progress and that stability.
And so it really is important to always remember, did I provide sensory activity today? I need to make sure I provided every day. And if it’s on the visual schedule, and you won’t have to think about it because it’ll already be there and you will remember and your child will remember.
And if you don’t remember, you will know when your kiddo starts running around the house or they have a meltdown. Then you will say, Oh, we were running late from the doctor’s office and we’ve, we didn’t get trampoline time in today. Uh, and that happens, you know, life happens.
But you want to try to be as consistent as possible every day. And, um, I love to do things with creativity because it just makes life fun. It doesn’t always have to be regimented, doesn’t always have to be at a table. It can be outside in the mud. It can be in the bathroom, the shaving cream, it can be on the floor. Um, it can just be anywhere and it should be fun and creative, um, for the kiddos.
Children are very aware of the Sensory Input they need
Alright, so one of the things that’s important to remember is children are very aware of the sensory input they need. They know, that’s why they run around. That’s why they jump on the sofa. That’s why they are trying to avoid sitting because they’re like, I need input. I need input. Any input. That’s why they are rubbing on someone’s skin because they need tactile input. That’s why they’re smelling things because they need input.
So they know. And if we don’t provide them with input, they’re going to find a way. And it’s not always the best way. It’s not always the most appropriate way. So it’s really an our best interest for, um, you know, parents sanity to provide a structured, in a structured manner so that they can get the input they need without having seek it out in inappropriate ways.
And one of the other things that I talk a lot about when I’m coaching parents is to be flexible and your demands for sitting, sitting and sitting and sitting. I mean, there’s so much demand on sitting for kiddos today, especially with a lot of technology that they had access to and kids really need to move their bodies.
So I’m going to stop talking and show, hopefully I don’t have any technology issues but just show a little video of this kiddo and he is actually, you were, you know, working on letters and fine motor and you know, sitting wasn’t something he could do on that particular day because for whatever reason he just wasn’t regulated. So I accommodated the situation and we still got the task done.
So if you’ll notice I have a few things going on here. He’s on the trampoline, on his core, on his belly and we have the letters that are a little bit tactile. I don’t know if you can see the bumpiness but I also have the letters kind of in the water beads. So I’m trying to provide him with anything and everything to give him input so that we can actually have success with the activity and complete the task, which is to work on our letters and complete the puzzle.
All right. There are many, many ways that you can do sensory based activities and pile on some learning as well. I like to do multiple things at once. And when it comes to sensory activities, there’s so much that you can do in regards to communication and building, um, academics as well. And so this is just a bowl of letters and some painters tape.
And now this is really fancy. I tried to do a spiderweb, I will admit that I was not successful, so I just made lines. Um, this is someone else’s picture, but I’ve done this activity before and it’s really, really simple, especially when kiddos can’t go outside because of the weather. You just put this tape, it doesn’t happen to be so elaborate.
I just want you to see the concept of how the letters are in little places so they can just walk along the lines of tape and pick up a letter. And if they’re not necessarily, um, efficient with their verbal skills, they can, um, either, you know, if they have their AC device. But if, you know, if they’re walking around, my recommendation is if they find an M you can say you found an M, they’ll either echo it or they will, you know, say it.
But the key is your modeling, your teaching and they are getting that tactile of the letter and they’re also visually getting the letter and they’re getting sensory input by walking on those lines. It’s not just sitting at the table going through the alphabet. This is another really simple activity. You know, I’m very much, um, all about not having a buy a bunch of fancy things.
You know, everybody has a tray from something they had food in and you said some finger paint and some cute tips and they can sensory practice their letters or numbers, shapes their name or they can just make zigzags whatever it is that floats their boat. It’s just a different way for fine motor with sensory fun.
Okay. So this is an example and this is one of my favorite videos because this is a kiddo that I, we were doing a homeschool program over the summer and part of his visual schedule was, um, sensory input in between structured activities.
And this is a sensory activity that really, really regulated him. However, it was really a struggle for his mom, um, to do with him. Even though the benefits of it was amazing. Like when he finished doing this for a good 10 minutes, he was regulated and ready to work. Um, but mom just really struggled with the noise and the activity.
And so I, I took video, that’s where the video came from, but I want you to see how something really so simple and just looking sort of, you know, outside of our comfort zone to allow our kiddos to get what they need so that they can be ready to do those tasks that we’re asking of them.
This is a stretchy and then he sits on the ball and he will bounce. And if you, if you notice how he’s sitting upright in that ball, when he is in a chair, he is usually very slumped. And so a lot of times flexible seating in a classroom. you know, you can recommend to your child’s teacher, Hey, can we get a big therapy ball for them to sit on? And it’s not something uncommon.
They actually make ball chairs for balls to sit in just for that purpose for kids to be able to get that input. Um, because they learn while they move, they just do. All right. This is another really simple example and if you’ll notice on the right, um, this is a classroom where the teacher has her students and she made it really cute, a book quote and it’s just a container.
And what I did was that you cut the top. Um, and if you’ll notice I have, it’s just a bath rug. And the reason I have the bath rug is because he requires a lot of tactile input and the bathtub has the little tingles so he can actually pull while he’s working.
And if you see, he is actually able to write his name when he is in this workstation. And I will will say, honestly, when I made this, I did not know how he was going to respond. I thought I would have to teach him how to use it. I couldn’t even get the rug in quick enough and he just climbed in on his own and I put the top on.
And that’s where we did homeschool every day. And he did very well. So he was getting all of the sensory input. While he was learning, which is great, really great because we want our kids to, we want to, to learn and they can learn.
We just need to support them. Alright, I’m just going to let this play for a little bit. Some of you may have received this from me personally, but this is really, really simple. It’s essence soul. I throw in a ziplock bag and put a little food coloring. Sometimes I add some essential oil, but it’s a really good sensory activity for sure.
Different things. I tried a new sensor activity today and all you need is a flat container for usage and storage. Two chopsticks, Epsom salt, which I tended with food coloring and I also infused it with lavender oil for the calming effect. Kids can use it for fine motor practice shapes. They can write their name for kids who have an aversion to some sensory feeling. They can use the chopsticks.
So this is just an example of things that you can do to make sensory bins, but it also can, help for, you know, with sight words, they can practice their math facts. I mean there’s so many things you can do with this one simple activity and your child is getting that sensory input at the same time.
All right, these are just some simple examples. Water beads are great and this is a picture of a child receiving stitchery input during occupational therapy and they are actually able to complete a puzzle, um, which they were not able to do when they were actually sitting at the table. So it’s really important to understand your child’s sensory needs.
Get creative, think about what you can do to help them show you what they know and to set them up for success. This is another simple one. This is just, and I don’t like to use sand, I use Epson salt or just regular salt because it doesn’t stick to your hands as much, but you can see it.
And this is, you know, this is a fancy trade. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s, you know, if they’re practicing sight words or letters, they’re able to do this in this little tray with salt and get that sensory input at the same time. Learning their letters or sight words or math facts, shapes as well.
This is one of my favorite activities that’s so simple. What do we do with those pool noodles? After the summer, we’d cut them up, we’d get some little tongs and we can do sorting, we can do counting fine motor practice, but the Palm palms are really good sensory and those, um, the swim noodles, they can squish them as well.
So just some examples I wanted to show you all because I want everyone to try something new this week. This weekend actually it’s a weekend. All right. Sensory bins. I love sensory beans.
They can be very, very helpful for everything. And sensory beans does not just have to include rice. There’s so many things. Pasta, pom pom balls, beans, different beans. You can color your rice lots and lots of different things that you can do to make sensory bins and really quick tip.
Sometimes we don’t always have a lot of space to have a bunch of sensory bins. So you can have one or two containers, but you can just keep the different items, the different tactile items in Ziploc bags and just switch them out so that your child gets a variety of that tactile input.
Alright, so I am going to challenge everyone with the task of, I think this might be in the way I’m gonna challenge everyone with the task of thinking outside the sensory box to facilitate language development, communication skills and attention to tasks. And I want everyone this weekend to try at least one, two would be great, at least one sensory activity this weekend.
And then, send a message letter. Um, no what you did or write it in your journal and coach accountability share because sometimes you know, Mmm, you don’t ever, somebody comes up with a new idea. We want to share that and then we can share it with other parents. But I want to challenge everyone to do something new sensory wise and I am going to open the floor two questions.