Sensory Integration Julie Baker
Firstly... …about me
Sensory Integration Workshop The aim of this presentation is to provide participants with some: • knowledge about Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorders • appreciation of the issues students face in the classroom
strategies and equipment Occupational Therapists use regularly • information for how you can help these students gain the most they can from their learning environment.
Our Senses We have 5 familiar senses that respond to sensory input from outside of our body. • Auditory (sound) -Information through the ears • Gustatory (taste) -Information through the mouth • Olfactory (smell) -Information through the nose • Visual-(seeing) -Information through the eyes • Tactile (touch) -Information through the hands & skin
But...... We have 2 hidden senses that respond to sensory input inside our body. • Vestibular – information about movement through the inner ear • Proprioceptive - Information from muscles, ligaments, and joints • When the hidden senses operate automatically and efficiently, a child is able to focus his eyes, ears and attention (familiar senses) to the task at hand.
What is Sensory Integration? • "Sensory integration is the process of organizing sensory inputs so that the brain produces a useful body response and also useful perceptions, emotions, and thoughts". (Ayres, J., 1995, p 28) • "It Is an unconscious process of the brain (occurs without us thinking about it - like breathing) Organizes information detected by one's senses (taste, sight, hearing, touch, smell, movement, gravity and position).
Gives meaning to what is experienced by sifting through all the information and selecting what to focus on (such as listening to a teacher and ignoring the noise of outside traffic) • Allows us to act or respond to the situation we are experiencing in a purposeful manner (known as an adaptive response. Forms the underlying foundation for academic learning and social behaviour." (Ayres, J., 1995, p 5) • The more we repeat the new skill, the stronger the pathways in the brain become and the skill becomes automatic.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)? • the brain is inefficiently processing sensory messages coming from a person's own body and his/her environment • trouble responding in an adaptive way to everyday sensations that you and I would hardly notice or simply take in our stride
Three different types of SPD Miller (2006)
What does SPD look like? • This can be difficult as they present as the ‘naughty’ child in many situations. Since you can’t physically see their issues, this can make it very difficult to identify, especially if you are unaware of sensory processing • The following are descriptions of only some of the commonly seen behaviours in children who exhibit sensory processing difficulties.
An acute awareness of background noises • Fascination with lights, fans, water • Hand flapping/repetitive movements • Spinning items, taking things apart • Walking on tip-toe • Little awareness of pain or temperature • Coordination problems • Unusually high or low activity level • Difficulty with transitions (doesn't "go with the flow") • Self-Injury or aggression • Extremes of activity level (either hyperactive or under active). • Fearful in space (on the swings, seesaw or heights).
Striking out at someone who accidentally brushes by them. • Avoidance of physical contact with people and with certain "textures," such as sand, paste and finger paints. • The child may react strongly to stimuli on face, hands and feet. • A child may have a very short attention span and become easily distracted. • A strong dislike of certain grooming activities, such as brushing the teeth, washing the face, having the hair brushed or cut. • An unusual sensitivity to sounds and smells. • A child may refuse to wear certain clothes or insist on wearing long sleeves/pants so that the skin is not exposed. • Appears floppy or has ‘low muscle tone’, tires easily and is often slumped in postures and sits in the W position on the floor • Frequently adjusts clothing, pushing up sleeves and/or pant legs.
Auditory • Responds negatively to unexpected or loud noises • Holds hands over ears • Cannot work with background noise • Seems oblivious within an active environment
Visual • Prefers to be in the dark • Hesitates going up and down steps • Avoids bright lights • Stares intensely at people or objects • Avoids eye contact
Tactile • Avoids getting messy in glue, sand, finger paint, tape Is sensitive to certain fabrics (clothing, bedding) • Touches people and objects at an irritating level • Avoids going barefoot, especially in grass or sand • Has decreased awareness of pain or temperature
Olfactory (Taste/Smell) • Avoids certain tastes/smells that are typically part of children's diets • Routinely smells non-food objects • Seeks out certain tastes or smells • Does not seem to smell strong odours
Proprioception • Continually seeks out all kinds of movement activities • Hangs on other people, furniture, objects, even in familiar situations • Seems to have weak muscles, tires easily, has poor endurance • Walks on toes
Vestibular • Becomes anxious or distressed when feet leave the ground. • Avoids climbing or jumping • Avoids playground equipment • Seeks all kinds of movement and this interferes with daily life • Takes excessive risks while playing, has no safety awareness
What impact does SPD have on learning? • Because SPD affects the child’s overall development, their participation in typical childhood experiences will be lacking, inconsistent, or ineffective. • Performing ordinary life activities may be challenging for the child with SPD because the child’s brain is unable to organize and process sensory information.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY • What actually is OT? • It is very important to seek an OT trained in sensory integration for assessment with children who are suspected of having difficulties with sensory processing • A therapist might incorporate sensory integration theory into treatment to assist the child in decreasing sensory-avoiding behaviours (like avoidance of brushing his or her teeth or hair), sensory sensitivities (such as sensitivities to certain fabrics or food textures), and sensory-seeking behaviours (like seeking movement input by constantly spinning, pacing, or rocking). • Addressing such issues will help the child self-regulate so that he or she is able to function and learn at school.
What is a Sensory Profile? • What is a Sensory Diet? • A sensory diet is an activity plan designed for an individual child to help modulate his ‘arousal’ level. • A sensory diet includes a combination of alerting, organizing and calming techniques to be used in their daily life
Approaching the parent/carer • Remember to be sensitive to the emotions of a parent whose teacher is saying something quite confronting about their child • Understand some parents will be defensive of their child’s issues • Give specific examples of why you have concerns • Be supportive and suggest you think it could be of great benefit to their child’s development if there is an underlying cause for their behaviour which could be addressed for the child. • Suggest they consider an Occupational Therapy Assessment with an OT trained in Sensory Integration
Many parents fear the stigma attached to Sensory Processing Disorder and do not want their child to be labeled as a special needs child. That fear is normal, but it does not help the child. • We must consider the identification of Sensory Processing Disorder as a benefit because a child can get help before the problem turns into a serious learning disability. • The psychological, emotional, learning and social effects of sensory integration dysfunction on an individual may be reduced with proper sensory integration treatment and an understanding from the medical and professional fields.
Strategies • Instead of targeting the behaviour, consider what the cause may be.... • For example, if the child cannot sit still and focus during circle/sit down time, try to find a subtle and quiet activity for the child to ‘fidget’ with during this time, or have them sit with something heavy on their lap • If they don’t like going out in the bright sunlight, try using sunglasses and a ‘floppy’ sun hat • If they seem to be overwhelmed with too much visual stimulation, put them at the front of the group to limit the amount of other children in their visual field and put the visual ‘busy-ness’ at the back of the classroom (ie: posters and bright artwork)
If they seem to not like loud noises, try headphones (noise buffering ones, not active ones) during music/loud activities • If the child is ‘bouncing off the walls’, provide regular active activities which give the proprioceptive feedback regularly during the class (ie: a short 30 second) ‘copy me’ game with ‘heavy movements’ including jumping, slapping legs, stomping, and/or ask the child to do certain tasks for you which involve carrying heavy items for you. (if they don’t need to be done, make something up!)
Equipment to help focus in sit down group activities • Fidget toys (bean bag, blue tac, taggies, stress ball) • Vibrating pillow to sit on • Pillow to sit on with poly pellets in it • Sitting on a ball • Weighted products (especially when coming from active play)
Equipment to satisfy proprioceptive needs • Heavy activities • Trampoline • Punching bag • Rollerboards • Tug of war • Climbing rope
Resources: Bricks & Mortar Stores • Senseabilities – 12 Winyard Drive, Mooroolbark VIC 3138 (03) 9726 8047 – usually open 10 – 2 weekdays I believe (Robyn and Kathy) • Sensory Matters – Wantirna, by appointment only (Julie)
Resources: Online • www.aass.org.au • www.thetoybug.com.au • www.onestopsensoryshop.com.au • www.indigotoys.com.au • www.specialneedstoys.com.au • www.alexanderstoybox.com.au • www.senseabilities.com.au • www.resourcesathand.com.au (books)
General information online http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcS2VUoe12M (GREAT Sensory Overload Simulation made by an adult living with SPD) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_Iuj8dr9oY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDIFmlEp7Ks www.spdaustralia.com.au
The Out-of-Sync Child – Recogniing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. 2005. Answers to Questions Teachers Ask about Sensory Integration by Jane Koomar, Carol Kranowitz and Stacey Szklut and others. 2007. Sensory Integration – A guide for Pre school Teachers by Christy Isbell and Rebecca Isbell 2007
I can not provide clinical Occupational Therapy consultations, but if you think I can be of any other help to guide you regarding general information, please do not hesitate to contact me. If I can’t assist you, I will endeavour to pass you information regarding other resources that may be able to help. Julie Baker Director – Sensory Matters 0419 523 704 email@example.com www.sensorymatters.com.au (to be launched soon) www.facebook.com/sensorymattersaustralia
Remember:Sensory Processing Disorder is not behavioural, it's neurological