How to Help a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder and Related Conditions
Your child seems to be struggling. It might seem extra hard for them to tune out noises, they seemingly overreact to inconveniences like sticky fingers, or they’re struggling to remember sight words you would hope they had mastered.
If this sounds familiar, your child may be experiencing symptoms of a processing disorder or have a heightened sensitivity to sensory inputs.
What is a Processing Disorder?
A processing disorder is a deficiency in a person’s ability to effectively use the information gathered by the senses. If the brain processing of auditory, visual, and sensory information is impaired, a child’s ability to learn and thrive in an academic setting is affected, often leading to low self-esteem and socialization difficulties.
“Kids with sensory processing differences just have different degrees of connection efficiency, particularly in the back part of the brain,” said Elysa Marco, a cognitive and behavioral pediatric neurologist who has studied the conditions. “These kids are not breaking down in school because their parents are doing a bad job or because they are bad kids. Their brains are wired differently.”
Processing disorders include:
- Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
Auditory Processing Disorder impacts a child’s comprehension and recall of what they hear and auditory processing in the brain. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, APD can result in issues related to listening for children, including repeated requests for clarification of spoken directions, or difficulty understanding conversations if they’re in a noisy place.
- Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, can result in over-responsiveness to sensory input, like extreme sensitivity to loud noise or itchy clothing, or under-responsiveness, which might present as a lack of awareness of personal space or a desire for thrill seeking. The reaction to sensory stimuli can interfere with the child’s daily life.
- Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)
Visual processing disorders can take many shapes - your child might not be able to distinguish between shapes, have difficulty copying notes from the board or have difficulty remembering the correct sequence for letters or numbers in a series.
A processing disorder is not always the result of impaired hearing, impaired vision, attention disorders, intellectual disability or learning deficit. As you explore how to help a child with Sensory Processing Disorder or related conditions, you may want to explore a non-medical intervention to improve their ability to manage sensory sensitivities.
Help with Sensory, Visual or Auditory Processing Struggles
It can be tough to answer the question of how to help a child with Sensory Processing Disorder or other processing disorders. Families may find it difficult to find treatment, as processing disorders are not currently recognized as medical diagnoses.
Brain Balance does not require that a child has a medical diagnosis, nor do we clinically diagnose medical conditions. Our focus is on understanding why your child is struggling with sensory processing and helping them develop and strengthen the connections needed to reduce those struggles.
Research has shown that these processing disorder symptoms may be linked to weak connections across different regions of the brain. The good news is, we know that the brain can change in a way that may lead to improvements in these symptoms. The symptoms your child is coping with may improve through a combination of physical, sensory and cognitive activities that help build stronger connections across different regions of the brain, speeding up brain processing abilities.
The Brain Balance Program’s unique combination of activities is designed to drive meaningful change in the symptoms they are experiencing. As we explore how to help a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, we use what we learn in the assessment to set up a program that is tailored to your child. By doing this for each child, individually, we create a customized program that addresses any deficits in functions or skills your child may have.
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2 It is important to speak directly with your doctor concerning the presence or confirmation of any diagnosis of a developmental or learning disorder. Brain Balance does not diagnose or treat disorders.