Have you ever wondered why your child refuses to go into a
hair salon, 7-Eleven, public bathroom or even a perfume store?
It's probably not because of what is going on in there, but
because it smells bad or the smells are too overwhelming!
The sensory challenged child presents in two ways:
Use scents that cover up the undesired odors
Teach a strategy that can be used in intolerable situations (such as to
use the pocket lotion)
Look for unscented products if perfumes are intolerable
Sensitize the child with poor odor awareness with smelling games:
(The use of scented markers and scented play doh is
NOT recommended as these products may encourage
a child to ingest them)
Strategies to reduce sensitivity to light or help with
Strategies to increase visual attentiveness (eye-
contact, tracking, attention to detail)
Strategies to reduce tactile defensiveness or over-sensitivity to touch
Strategies to increase tactile awareness
Sensitivities involving the mouth go beyond just the sense of
taste; Food texture is an important influence. In general,
there are two types of oral sensitivities: Hypersensitive
(overly reactive) and hypo sensitive (under reactive).
Food play is a good way to introduce new food tastes and textures:
new experience within a given time period.
Activities that make the mouth and surrounding structures work hard
is helpful for the orally seeking child:
mouth" techniques listed above
or help with auditory distractions
Strategies to increase attentiveness to sound
(listening to the speaker, teacher, etc.)
by Sensory System
|You may have heard terms such as "sensory defensive" and "sensory seeking." When
someone is defensive, it means that a particular sensation is noxious or uncomfortable to them.
They resort to avoidance behavior. A child may refuse to touch something gooey or may
become upset when entering a place that is too noisy or where the lights are too bright.
An individual who is seeking sensory stimulation may be under-sensitive to stimuli to a degree
or may, for some reason, crave more of a particular sensation. An example is the child who
sucks and chews on his shirt color. There are some who need to touch everything.
Listed below, are some strategies that help get to that "just right" level of sensory
processing organized by sensory system.
|The skin is the largest organ of the human body. Among its
many functions, the skin contains sensory receptors for
touch, temperature, pressure and vibration.
|Small receptors within our muscles and tendons detect
the amount of stretch that occurs in muscle fibers and
tendons. This allows us to sense the movements of our
body parts without having to look at where they are.
|To give us our sense of balance, within the inner ear are
small structures called the semicircular canals. These act
as a Carpenter's Level in a way. The semicircular canals
tell us when we are upright or tilted.
follow the link:
Ouch! Sensory Integration and Haircuts
|Activities that provide feedback into the muscles and joints of the
body promote coordinated movement. Repetitive movement enables us
to know where our arms and legs are in space. In addition, there is
much literature written about the benefits of using proprioceptive
activities to organize all of the senses in the treatment of sensory
processing disorders (SPD). This is especially noted when the
muscles are used in “heavy work” patterns. "Heavy work" is any gross
motor activity that involves moving against resistance to provide
deep pressure into the muscles and joints of the body. Pushing,
pulling, carrying, lifting or jumping are examples. Interestingly,
many of the same heavy work activities that help reduce
hyperactivity in children also help to engage children who appear
listless, tired or floppy. Below are some examples:
|The vestibular sense serves as a gravitational guide. It lets you know
where your body is in space in relation to gravity. Observe how your child
reacts to playground equipment. Some children may fear climbing a ladder
or walking on an unsteady surface. Others may crave certain movements
such as jumping, rocking or twirling. Children who over react or under
react to movement often benefit from activities that provide input into
the vestibular system. Some ideas are listed below:
|The hypersensitive or "orally defensive" child dislikes experiencing
various taste and texture sensations in the mouth. The orally defensive child
often has a limited repertoire of foods he/she will eat, perhaps only mushy
foods, only crunchy foods or only bland foods, etc. They may avoid chewy
foods and foods with mixed textures or lumps. Some avoid foods of a certain
color. These children gag easily, may avoid using their lips (use teeth only)
when eating off of a fork or spoon. Some may be overly sensitive to brushing
their teeth or being touched around the face and lips.
|The hyposensitive or "orally seeking" child often craves certain mouth
sensations and may even explore the environment by licking inedible objects.
He/she may have a strong desire for a particular taste sensation (sweet,
salty, bitter, sour), flavor (spicy, minty, cinnamon, banana, vanilla, etc.) or
texture (crunchy, mushy, icy, slushy). He/she may have difficulty controlling
bite size and may overstuff his/her mouth. Reminders to chew completely
before swallowing may be needed. When not eating, the orally seeking child
may often have something in their mouth or are chewing on their clothing,
pencil erasers, toys, etc.
|The child who is hypersensitive to smells is over-responsive and tends to
avoid people, objects, food or places associated with smells that are
offensive to him/her. Consider that a particular odor may be the reason why
a child refuses to enter a public restroom, gymnasium, a certain friend or
relative's home, a store or restaurant. The kitchen generates many odors as
do certain foods. The over-responsive child may dislike perfumes, the smell
of metals and other substances and may be reluctant to touch things for fear
of getting the smell on their hands.
|The under-responsive child may seek out odors or be unaware of them. Some
may have a compulsion to smell objects in the environment, even those seeming
to be odorless. Some may have difficulty discriminating good odors from bad
odors, creating safety issues with poisonous substances. Some hyposensitive
children need to use their sense of smell in inappropriate ways as they
interact with people or objects.
|Click here to learn about sensory
Calming and Alerting Strategies