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Occupational Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder

Occupational Therapists play a key role in the treatment of individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder. The goal of Occupational Therapy treatment for children with Sensory Processing Disorder is to develop automatic and appropriate responses to sensations, to enable improved social participation and allowing them to complete day to day activities. When Occupational Therapy treatment is effective, children will have an improved ability to accurately detect, regulate, interpret and execute the appropriate behavioural and motor responses to sensory input. Following a thorough Occupational Therapy assessment, the Occupational Therapist will then formulate a treatment plan targeted at any problems or difficulties and then set relevant goals.

One of the most effective treatment methods for Sensory Processing Disorder is sensory integration therapy, performed by Occupational Therapists which involves them providing vital sensory input and experiences that will help the child to learn and develop. Sensory integration therapy normally involves specific sensory activities that include swinging, bouncing, spinning, brushing etc., and they are all aimed at helping the individual to regulate their sensory response. Reported outcomes of sensory integration therapy include increased concentration, improved behaviour and decreased anxiety levels. Sensory integration therapy tends to be a fun activity that is play based. This encourages the child to participate as they do not realise it is direct treatment and are able to have fun. This type of therapy has been found to be one of the most effective and common treatment methods for someone with Sensory Processing Disorder as it targets sensory input and how the individual reacts and copes with it.

Balance, movement - OT intervention

Balance, movement - OT intervention

Ideally treatment should start in childhood however, it is still possible to provide treatment in adulthood but the progression may be slower.

Occupational Therapists can also set up home programmes, with or without direct treatment, to assist with reducing the symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder. It is also important that the child and their parents/carers are educated about Sensory Processing Disorder which can help them to understand the ways in which the disorder can affect learning, social integration and motor skills.

One treatment that Occupational Therapists may provide is the Wilbarger Brushing technique. This treatment provides internal organisation of the nervous system with tactile and proprioceptive stimuli. Each session will begin with the use of a special sensory brush that the Occupational Therapist will use to provide moderate pressure along the child's arms, back and then legs. Following the brush strokes, a series of joint compressions will be applied. It is important that the Occupational Therapist teaches the child's parents/carers how to perform this technique at home as this intervention is required to be performed every 90 minutes during waking hours for at least a week. Results of this technique have included improved verbal communication with the child; improved sleep patterns and having a calming influence. Following this week of treatment, the Occupational Therapist will be able to re-evaluate whether this technique is beneficial for the child and whether they would benefit from further sessions. Some children react well to this treatment; however others do not like the sensation and will be unable to tolerate it.

Occupational therapy is extremely beneficial for individuals with sensory processing disorder in helping the individual to manage and cope in their daily activities more effectively. Occupational therapy provides tailored treatment programmes which will be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of the individual.

If you feel that you would benefit from occupational therapy and would like to arrange an assessment with one of our occupational therapists please contact us by emailing or calling 0330 088 6693.

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