Attention Deficit and Sensory Processing Disorder
Many children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD have challenges with taking in or screening out the sounds, sights, lights, movement, textures or touch from their environments. They may be overly sensitive to some sensations while being under responsive to others. Sometimes the sensory overload will put them into a high alertness state, like a fight or flight response, resulting in meltdowns or tantrums. Sometimes the overload will push them to shut down and withdraw. Occupational Therapy can help children with sensory processing disorders.
Self Regulation in ADD and ADHD
Self regulation is that ability to remain calm across environments and to modulate emotions even when over stimulated, hungry or tired. To keep ourselves with just the right amount of focus and attention for the task at hand, we all use tools and strategies. Self regulation can be especially challenging for children with Attention problems. OT can help children who need assistance to develop their own set of tools and strategies that work for them, for self regulation and focus.
Occupational Therapy’s Role in Treating Self-Regulation Challenges
Occupational Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder addresses how sensory information is getting in, and it also teaches children to recognize the effects of sensory overload and to use sensory tools and strategies to regulate attention in a wide range of environments. Children engage in play activities that bring together vision, movement, sound and balance to integrate information that comes through different sensory channels (sometimes referred to as Sensory Integration therapy). Children also engage in muscle work activities to help self-regulate attention.
Sensory Processing Resources:
Many books are available about sensory processing. Check the local library for these:
The Out of Sync Child, Carol Stock Kranowitz
The Sensory-Sensitive Child, Karen A Smith & Karen R Gouze
Raising a Sensory Smart Child, Lindsey Biel & Nancy Peske
Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight, Sharon Heller
Sensational Kids, Lucy Jane Miller & Doris A Fuller