I have been happily surprised lately while talking to some of the staff at daycares and Mother's Day Out (MDO) programs where I work with some children for occupational therapy services. They ACTUALLY have heard about sensory processing disorder (SPD)...yeah, it is not a foreign concept to them! At one MDO program I was at last month, the teacher even asked me if I thought she should refer another child for an OT evaluation due to him possibly having sensory processing problems. Now before you get overly elated that the OTs in our community have done the most amazing job ever, I have to let you know that this woman has a nephew with Asperger's and SPD. But still, it was exciting to have her initiate the topic.
I live in a suburban area outside of a large city with a school district that is well known for its great support of children with special needs. In fact, there is a special program just for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. You know what that means don't you? It means we have people moving into our district at increasing rates each year. It also means that many community members are more aware of learning disorders and other special needs than in some of the other places. Many of the preschools/MDO programs, daycares, and babysitter organizations go out of their way to be inserviced on learning problems and in particular SPD. Now, I am not going to go so far as to say us OTs and special education/ early intervention staff have done everything we can do to educate our community. Of course we haven't! Everyone can always do more.
If you would like some ideas on how to raise awareness of sensory issues in your community, go to this link that provides contact information for a free electronic packet full of ideas to help you:
S. I. Focus
Since October is National Sensory Awareness Month, I will be doing a little extra educating on the topic. I've already done a 90 minute presentation to the new staff at my job last week, and I plan to do something at least once a week this month to bring awareness to SPD.
I do public speaking quite a bit on various therapy related topics including SPD. One thing that I have learned is to keep it simple when explaining SPD to people who have never heard of it, but don't over-simplify it either. If you plan to go out in the community and speak to groups about SPD, then make sure you know your audience. A group of doctors may not need the same explanation as a group of elementary school teachers. Doctors tend to want to know about "proof" through research whereas teachers like to know the functional implications and simple strategies to help the children.
Good luck with spreading the word about Sensory Processing Disorder!