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Book Review: Sensory Integration And The Child

At their last check-up, you mentioned to the pediatrician that your child is having some difficulty focusing and paying attention at school. They seem clumsy and are constantly falling and bumping into their friends on the playground. At home, simple day to day activities such as taking a bath, arts and crafts play, and mealtimes are becoming more and more of a struggle. You are wondering if there may be some physiological explanation as to why your child seems to have such a hard time completing activities in the same way as their friends or siblings. Carefully, your pediatrician listens to your concerns and starts to talk about “Sensory Processing Disorder.”

Your mind starts racing. What does this mean for your child and their future? What can you do to help your child move past this label and be as successful and happy as you know they can be? Parents bring their children to occupational therapy each week with different levels of understanding and different questions about the neurological disorder that inhibits the efficient processing of sensory information. One resource that many have found extremely valuable and that I recommend is Sensory Integration & the Child- 25th Anniversary Edition by Jean Ayres.

In simple and easy to understand language Ayres outlines what a sensory processing disorder may look like in your child’s body and brain. A simple analogy comparing sensory processing to street traffic helps parents, professionals and children put a mental picture around a term that may otherwise seem vague or confusing. Once Ayres explains what a sensory processing disorder is, she details each of the 5 most widely known extrinsic sensory tracts (sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste). Ayres also details two other hidden and less commonly understood intrinsic tracts involving the proprioceptive and vestibular senses. Next, she delves into explanations as to how these tracts interrelate in order to allow a child to experience, integrate and react to their environment. The book is jam packed with valuable information as well as tips and tricks that parents can put to immediate use in understanding sensory processing disorders and in helping their child to overcome any sorts of sensory related challenges they may be facing.

The diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder may be scary and daunting at first. It is important for parents and children to remember that they are not alone. Difficulty processing sensory information is extremely common and affects each individual differently. Reading through Jean Ayres book Sensory Integration & the Child- 25th Anniversary Edition or consulting with an occupational therapist are great places to start to get more information.




Take the Battle out of Brushing | 5 Strategies to More Successful Tooth Brushing!

Is tooth-brushing ever a battle in your household? Have you bought every sort of toothbrush and toothpaste out there, and nothing seems to help the process go smoother? Some children may have sensory aversions to brushing their teeth (e.g. scratchy bristles and gritty toothpaste), while some children may have behavioral aversions to brushing their teeth (e.g. fear, anxiety, or control). Either way, try some of the strategies below to help your child be on their way to a brighter, healthier smile!

Tips To Get Your Child To Brush His Teeth:

1. Print off or create a picture of the mouth to use as a visual model/diagram: this will help the child to see what area of the mouth the parent is going to help them to brush (e.g. front teeth, side teeth, back teeth, molars, tongue) while also helping the parent to feel in control of the situation. Similarly, one area can be focused on at a time, rather than taking on the entire mouth in one sitting. Overall, both verbal and visual strategies help a child prepare for what is coming next, as well as to reinforce (e.g. “Now Mommy is going to massage your front teeth! Can you put a sticker on the picture of the front teeth?”).

2. Use a mirror, bite block, or flavored tongue depressor to help explore their mouth: this helps to provide both visual and tactile awareness to the areas the tooth brush will be reaching.

http://www.talktools.com/bite-block-sensory-friendly-purple/

http://www.talktools.com/search.php?search_query=flavored+tongue+depressors

3. Rename the task: rather than calling it tooth-brushing, rename it with something less intimidating such as “tickling” or “massaging” so that your child does not associate pain with “brushing”. Similarly, instead of using more intimidating words such as molars, create new names such as “big back teeth”.

4. Use toothpaste during a non-toothpaste time: instead of only getting the toothpaste out in the morning and before bed, pull it out at random times throughout the day and explore it with your child (e.g. squirt it onto your finger or onto a paper plate, touch it, smear it, lick it, draw a picture with it, rub it between your fingers, brush your teeth using your finger). This will help to lighten the mood and will help them to explore with each of their senses (touch, taste, sight, smell).

5. Try a musical toothbrush: this provides the child with an auditory cue as to how long they need to brush for and when they can stop. It also gives them a time expectation (when the music stops, they are done, and they know it).

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Visual Calendars & Schedules: How They Benefit Your Child

Summertime brings about a more relaxed schedule that is filled with fun activities: camp, family vacations, trips to the water park. However, children with sensory processing difficulties or any anxiety tend to prefer a very predictable schedule and may feel uneasy during this time. When there is a change in routine or something new is thrown into the day, that element of predictability disappears, and the child can become anxious, upset and possibly act out as a result. He or she may not know what to expect and how to plan for new sensory experiences. After all, with each new activity comes a plethora of new sensory input such as sound, touch, movement, and sight. A visual calendar that identifies daily and weekly schedule changes can help children with sensory processing difficulties or children who have a hard time transitioning feel more comfortable with their summer routine.

Tips For Using A Visual Calendar Or Schedule With Your Child:

  • Use a calendar large enough to write down daily and weekly activities.
  • Review the calendar with your child daily so he knows what to expect for the day and for the weeks ahead. For example, “Today we will go to the beach. In 5 days, you will start camp.”
  • Cross off the days as they conclude and review what is on the schedule for the next day at bedtime, and again in the morning.
  • Be sure to include the first day of school on the calendar to indicate the end of summer.

For children with sensory processing concerns, thinking in the future can be very abstract and overwhelming. The visual calendar will be beneficial to make your child’s day to day and week to week schedule more concrete and help him or her be more organized.

Below is an example of a successful visual calendar:

Visual Calendar

Visual Calendar

Feel free to comment with how a visual calendar has helped your child!