Sensory processing refers to how we interpret information from our senses, primarily touch, smell, vision, taste, hearing, and movement. Since we use most of these senses simultaneously, sensory processing organizes and interprets the information before a meaningful response is made. Unfortunately, while this process is automatic for most people, it is not for children with autism.
Learn more about sensory processing therapy here.
Children with autism don’t find it easy to process sensory information such as sounds, smells, taste, texture, movement, and brightness. This is why autistic children reject some foods, have an extreme reaction to overhead light and sounds, or reject clothes with a specific texture.
These reactions interfere with their ability to fit in with normal activities. Unfortunately, this isolates them from the rest of the family since they can’t eat the same things or even participate in similar activities.
Some parents even struggle to get the right school for their children.
Sensory processing therapy helps children with autism to have an almost normal life by controlling their sensory reactions.
What is sensory processing therapy?
Sensory processing therapy, a form of occupation therapy, uses various methods to help children with autism overcome sensory challenges. Sensory integration therapy Singapore is mostly play-oriented and includes various equipment, including trampolines, slides, and swings.
Therapists slowly introduce children with autism to environments that they would naturally react to in a bid to get them more comfortable. Over time, the child will start tolerating sensory-rich environments without having adverse reactions.
Signs that your child needs Sensory integration therapy
Some parents mistakenly keep their children in environments they feel safe. While this is understandable, it is not the best approach because it keeps them isolated, and they are kept from developing life skills. Instead, sensory integration therapy Singapore is recommended to help children cope even when they come into contact with the sensory overload triggers.
Some of the signs include;
- Short attention span
- Lack of self-control
- Overly sensitive to some sounds and sights
- Rejection of certain foods because of the smell
- Delays in developing motor skills
- Emotional imbalances
- Delays in speech development
- Sensitivity to light
- Anxiety when in places with many people
What happens during Sensory Processing therapy?
When you approach a sensory integration therapist for help with your autistic child, he or she will first attempt to find out the extent of sensory and performance challenges that your child faces. Children with autism have different reactions, ranging from mild to extreme.
After verifying the nature of your child’s sensory response, the therapist will recommend various remedies, often a combination of therapies, that are likely to have a positive impact on reducing your child’s responses.
Some of the common interventions are;
a) Remedial intervention
This therapy involves the use of motor and sensory activities, such as massage and swinging.
b) Sensory diet programs
Since sensory processing is the primary problem, sensory processing therapy seeks to feed all the senses to find a balance. The therapist will come up with a daily menu on which senses will be stimulated. For example, therapists use aromatherapy, a weighted blanket, quiet space, tangible items, and physical activity to check on a child’s sensory response.
c) Accommodation and adaptations
This therapy seeks to help a child with autism adapt to a stressful environment in the best way possible. For example, if a child struggles with sound, the therapist may introduce earplugs to diminish noise. Additionally, if your child enjoys his bath, a textured sponge may be recommended to help him get used to different textures.
d) Training of caregivers
Since a therapist spends limited time with the child, parents, guardians, and caregivers need tips on helping the child cope when at home. Teachers may also be involved in the training, especially if they spend the whole day in school.
e) Environmental modifications
While it is important to help children with autism adapt to their environment, it is equally important that they feel safe and comfortable, especially when they spend most of their time. This means the therapist may recommend changes in décor, furnishings and white noise machines that trigger sensory overload.
Over time, sensory integration therapy Singapore will help decrease the need for adaptations. This means a child with autism will eventually learn to function optimally when at home and school without feeling overwhelmed. You will no longer feel worked up planning where you can or cannot go with your child because his sensory processing can balance his sensory reactions.