Monday, April 30, 2012

Individualizing Approaches to Daily Routines for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

I love that there are so many books and websites that provide information on how to help children with sensory processing disorder (SPD, also known as sensory integration disorder-SID). It is a starting place for the parents, teachers, and therapists on how to better help each child. But the problem with generic advice, is that it only gets you so far. Some issues need to be resolved by individualizing the strategies for that particular child. I'm blessed to work with children in their homes for my two jobs (Early Intervention, Private Practice). This allows me to show up during the day at the time of the difficult routine. For example, if the child is having problems with dressing or feeding then I show up early in the morning. If the child is having problems at daycare at lunch or playtime then I show up mid-day. My schedule doesn't always work out perfect, but at least I am better able to help the parents and caregivers problem-solve the routine more thoroughly than when I worked at an out-patient therapy clinic. Recently, I helped a mother to adapt her toddler's dressing routine. Paying attention to the fabric of the clothing, background noise/distractions, and giving him some choice of shirts, socks, and pants helped reduce his tantrums.The suggestions were simple, but made a big difference! Mealtime is a particular routine that needs to be observed by the therapist. The height of the chair, fabric of the cushions, type of utensils and cups, and the sensory input of the environment can make a big difference in the quality of eating and the quantity of food eaten. If the child is disorganized due to things going on nearby (TV too loud, smells over-whelming, etc.), then he may throw a tantrum before the meal has even begun! I do work on oral-motor skills with my clients, yet it is amazing how working on the sensory qualities of the meal routine can impact the child too. If you have a child who goes to a clinic for therapy, I encourage you to look into having the therapist come for at least one home therapy visit or for you to video record the difficult routine. I enjoy analyzing video especially since I can go back to watch it repeatedly. I would love to hear of some of your ideas that have helped you to figure out solutions to difficult daily routines with your child with SPD.