Many children experience challenges with sensory processing and integration. Our senses help us interpret the world around us. The way we process and integrate sensory information determines how we react to sound, sight, smell, touch, taste, and movement. Children who have challenges with sensory processing and integration can experience sensory input differently which can cause problems for the child and his or her family. Whether it’s trouble at bath time or difficulty in a crowded cafeteria, the first step in helping a child is to identify what is causing the challenges.
What do sensory challenges look like?
Each child’s sensory challenges may be different. These challenges are wide ranging, and many kids have a combination of them.
Here are examples of some of the types of sensory challenges children deal with:
- Over responsive to sensory input:Children who are over responsive tend to have extreme responses to sensory input. They may have a hard time in public places because they can feel overwhelmed by sounds, lights, smells, or people moving around them. Parents may say their child acts out when they take them to a restaurant, grocery store or other public places; to the point that they avoid taking their child to these places.
- Under responsive to sensory input:Children who are under responsive don’t seem to register or react to sensory input. These are children who don’t even look up when a fire alarm goes off. They may not notice or tell you when they’re hurt.
- Sensory craving: Children who crave sensory input need much more sensory input than most people, but as the input continues, they become disorganized. These children may be described as intense, demanding and have difficulty calming. They may be excessively physical or affectionate.
Who can help children who have sensory challenges?
Occupational therapists at Cincinnati Children’s are trained in assessing and treating children with challenges in sensory processing and integration.
If you think your child could benefit from this type of therapy have your pediatrician send a referral to Cincinnati Children’s.
For more information about the Division of Occupational and Physical Therapy call 513-636-4651.