Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy
Occupational therapists at Children's Health℠ are passionate about making life better for children with sensory processing disorder (SPD). Our experienced, caring teams have training and certifications in different types of therapy for SPD, including Sensory Integration™. They use their training to determine your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses so they can design a therapy program that’s right for them. With specialized care in an environment made for children, your child can feel comfortable and safe as they navigate new sensory experiences.
What is Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy?
Sensory processing disorder therapy exposes your child to different sensory experiences, such as different textures, sounds or lights, in a personalized way. Children who are hypersensitive to their senses need slow exposure to new sensory experiences, while children who are less sensitive need a safe way to explore their senses.
SPD therapy also includes a lot of education for parents. Your child’s occupational therapist can help you better understand how your child is experiencing the world and what you can do to help them feel calm.
What are the benefits of Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy?
SPD therapy can help your child’s brain better make sense of the information it receives from their senses. When your child can respond well to sounds, lights, textures or movement, they can focus and feel better at home and at school. Many parents report that their children have improved behavior after therapy.
SPD therapy can also help your child participate in typical childhood activities, like playing on the playground, making friends or joining team sports. Without therapy, these activities may be difficult for them to participate in.
Because therapy also involves education for parents, it can help you better understand how SPD affects your child’s life. It can help you improve your relationship with your child and support them when they are experiencing sensory challenges. When you know what your child is experiencing, you can advocate for them at school and in other situations when they need your help.
What are the side effects of Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy?
SPD therapy does not have any side effects.
What are the risks of Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy?
If your child is pushed too far, too fast during therapy, they can become fearful and have strong negative reactions to therapy techniques. At Children’s Health, our highly trained therapists use a gentle, gradual approach to therapy so your child can have a positive experience while making progress.
What to expect with Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy
SPD therapy provides fun, meaningful activities to help your child’s brain learn how to organize information from their senses. Each child receives personalized therapy based on standardized evaluations of how they respond to different experiences.
Your child’s therapy may include:
- “Balancing” the senses with massage or swinging
- Teaching you techniques for helping your child feel more comfortable in the world, such as wearing sunglasses in bright rooms or wearing headphones in loud places
- Teaching you how to create an environment at home that is calming for your child
- Participating in sensory activities like playing in a ball pit, listening to calming music or sitting under a weighted blanket
- Doing motor skills activities such as using a fork, writing or coloring, and closing zippers or buttons
Your occupational therapist will give you information on what sensory activities your child needs to complete every day, such as experiencing aromatherapy or sitting in a designated quiet space. It’s important to keep working on therapy at home to continue the progress they make during their appointments.
What questions should I ask my provider about Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy?
We encourage you to learn as much as you can about what your child needs from therapy and their environment. You might ask your occupational therapist:
- Have you cared for a child with SPD before?
- Will my child go home with any special equipment after therapy?
- How long do you think my child will need therapy?
- How often does my child need to come to therapy?
- What are things I can do at home to support my child’s progress?
- What should I tell my child’s teachers or other caregivers about their treatment?
Pediatric Sensory Processing Disorder Therapy Doctors and Providers
Occupational therapists work closely with developmental pediatricians to help children with SPD to ensure that your child is getting the care they need for a healthy, active life.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should my child start therapy for SPD?
The earlier your child receives therapy, the better. Starting therapy while they are still developing, such as in toddlerhood and young childhood, helps them make better progress.
Will my child need therapy for their whole life?
Many children can improve with therapy and may not need it anymore. However, stressful situations can bring back sensory issues. If your child experiences big changes in their life, it’s likely they will need therapy again for at least a little while.