As a therapist, sometimes we stumble in to success for Sensory Processing Disorder. What matters is, can you repeat it? Can you help parents and kids do it too? How about helping people you never even meet find that success in sensory processing as well?
It first came to my attention how much doing a daily sensory diet mattered when I worked at a private sensory integration focused practice. Parents are busy, but they would bring their kids into the clinic once, maybe twice a week to work on sensory processing. The problem is that once or twice a week of doing sensory activities is not enough. It didn’t matter that our appointments were 45 minutes long. The nervous system relies on repetition to lay down tracks for improved sensory processing.
Kids were often dropped off and if I was lucky I would have a couple minutes either before or after the session to check in with the parent. This was never enough and I knew it then but as a newbie to the clinic and with limited tools on how to teach parents, I didn’t know how to get buy in to doing a sensory diet on a regular basis at home.
A story of change
Then I met a family that changed my perspective and my desires for all other clients that I would see from then on. They were a large family. When their children got older, they adopted a couple more from different countries. One of them came directly from an orphanage. By the sounds of it, besides being insufficient on food and basic necessities, I am sure there was an absolute devoid of sensory opportunities.
I saw two kids from this family. This mom was like many others. She learned from her doctor that her children had sensory processing disorder and did a little googling at home. She had a very basic understanding of sensory integration before coming to see us. Where she differed from many other families was that she attended every single session, asked questions and implemented what we recommended religiously. We talked about a sensory diet, and she rearranged her schedule to include a before and after school trip to a gym space she had access to. She took her whole family, got in a walk and some exercise herself while she directed her family in several sensory activities that we suggested in the clinic. It didn’t take her long, just the 10 minutes twice a day that we recommended.
She came in each week excited about the changes that she was seeing in her kids. And she didn’t have to tell me. I could see them making huge leaps in both their tolerance of sensory activities and their ability to process that input. They were trying new things they previously wouldn’t allow. School work became easier as less effort was required by their nervous system to simply handle sensory information.
I was blown away by the dramatic improvement in both of these kids, in different ways. I want this for every child, which was why I helped develop Sensory Sid Activity Cards. As a parent now I get the difficulty of starting a new regime and getting a child to participate in activities. These cards make it simple to work on sensory integration and add a whole lot of fun to the process.
Whether you are a parent or a caregiver of a child with sensory processing disorder, a teacher looking for ways to implement sensory activities into your classroom, or a therapist trying to help other parents starting a sensory diet, I hope these cards help. Maybe you’re going to be starting your own success story!