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How is Sensory Processing Disorder Treated?

Following an initial assessment, a team of health professions will work together with the individual and their family/carers to develop an appropriate treatment plan. The treatment plan will target the individual's problem areas of sensory processing. The type and severity of symptoms will vary amongst individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder, and therefore no one treatment will be suitable for all children. Interventions will always be tailored to suit the individual needs, and will require the correct health professional to help with the different types of symptoms. Treatments for Sensory Processing Disorder need to be fun, play-based interventions that are performed in a sensory-rich environment. It is also important that the child is actively involved in selecting the activities performed during treatments, and will therefore have increased motivation to participate during interventions.

The most common treatment used as an intervention for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder is sensory integration therapy. This focuses on activities that will challenge the individual with sensory input. The therapist leading the treatment would then help the child to learn how to respond appropriately to this sensory stimulus. Sensory integration therapy will be planned to ensure that it meets the sensory needs of each individual. The main goal of sensory integration therapy is to improve the way in which the individual's brain processes and adapts to sensory information. Therapy will usually involve activities that provide vestibular, tactile, and proprioceptive stimuli, all dependent on the deficits in sensory processing highlighted during the initial assessment.

Several types of therapy may be required depending on the different problems highlighted during assessments, with treatments used often depending on the child's unique set of sensory responses to stimulus. Some of the common therapies used include:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Hippotherapy - this involves treatment with use of a horse to improve vestibular responses whilst promoting muscle action
  • Vision Therapy - may be performed by a developmental optometrist to help strengthen eye-motor control and eye-hand coordination
  • Perceptual Motor Therapy - may help to stimulate left/right brain communication, thus improving the interpretation of sensory input

It is advisable that certain guidelines are followed during treatments for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder. For hypersensitive children these include:

  • Gradual introduction of sensory stimulus
  • Not forcing the child to move, taste or touch things if they do not want to
  • Actively involving the child by preparing them with what they will be doing before beginning the activity
  • Allowing the child to experience the sensations when they are ready, in their own time
  • Discussing with the child what they are feeling so that they understand and accept the stimulus
  • Being patient and allowing the child to ask questions, discuss their feelings and emotions

For hyposensitive children, it is advisable to follow the guidelines below during treatments:

  • Making the child aware of their body parts and positioning through sensory play and heavy work
  • Reminding the child to perform what their body needs to do, ensuring tasks are performed safely
  • Using lots of deep pressure and heavy work as tolerated and required
  • Encouraging more movement experiences and movement breaks
  • Perform a variety of activities in different positions

For hypersensitive children that tend to overact to stimuli it is advisable to include the following in treatment sessions:

  • Slowly introduce any sensory stimulus
  • Avoid noisy, crowded an over stimulating environments
  • Allow the child to wear ear plugs if they are going to be in a noisy environment
  • Allow the child to wear sunglasses if there are bright lights

For hyposensitive children that tend to underact to stimuli, it is advisable to ensure the following during treatments:

  • Providing lots of opportunities for physical activities and movement experiences
  • Utilising equipment such as weighted vests to allow the child to more aware of their body
  • Changing positions regularly during activities
  • Use lots of hand gestures and an animated tone of voice

If you feel you would benefit from any of our services for Sensory integration Disorder and would like to arrange an assessment with one of our therapists please contact us by emailing

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