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School Readiness and Signs that Your Child May Have Sensory Issues

Aiden’s father teared up as he talked about his son’s progress in dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder. At nine years old, Aiden is just beginning to read, but his dad feels he is going to have a breakthrough this year.  See his video.

Children with sensory issues often have developmental delays and sadly, misdiagnosis is common, as healthcare professionals are not trained to recognize sensory issues.

Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into responses. For those with Sensory Processing Disorder, sensory information goes into the brain but does not get organized into appropriate responses.

One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids often are misdiagnosed – and inappropriately medicated – for ADHD.

starpenSensory issues can cause:

·      poor academic performance

·      fidgety behavior or poor concentration

·      trouble playing with others

·      clumsy, awkward motor skills

·      trouble with handwriting

·      trouble with loud sounds or being touched

·      speech, language and communication issues

·      eating problems at school

·      behavior problems

 Children who are under or over-processing stimuli may appear ADHD or autistic. Perhaps a second opinion should be sought before a child is put on medication when Occupational Therapy may be the answer, especially if you are having doubts about a diagnosis or a child is not improving.

 What occupational therapy does for kids with SPD is to help both the child and the family learn strategies and tools to help the child at home and at school.

The STAR Center provides Occupational Therapy with the goal of fostering appropriate responses to sensation in an active, meaningful and fun way so the child is able to behave in a more functional manner. Over time, the appropriate responses generalize to the environment beyond the clinic including home, school, and the larger community. Effective occupational therapy thus enables children with SPD to take part in the normal activities of childhood, such as playing with friends, enjoying school, eating, dressing, and sleeping.

Ideally, occupational therapy for SPD is family-centered. Parents are involved and work with the therapist to learn more about their child’s sensory challenges and methods for engaging in therapeutic activities (sometimes called a “sensory diet)” at home and elsewhere. The child’s therapist may provide ideas to teachers and others outside the family who interact regularly with the child. Families have the opportunity to communicate their own priorities for treatment.

Treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder helps parents and others who live and work with sensational children to understand that Sensory Processing Disorder is real, even though it is “hidden.” With this assurance, they become better advocates for their child at school and within the community, and their child can be ready for school and academically successful.

STAR Center is pleased to announce that Open Playground time now has extended hours. The STAR Center provides its privately-fenced, 13,000-square-foot playground for the community-at-large to use free of charge. Come experience our wondrous sensory playground on Tuesdays and Thursdays through November, from 12:00pm to 5:00pm.  The World’s Best Sensory playground offers children a chance to play, learn and socialize in a unique setting that is safe and fun. While we use the playground to help kids with sensory processing challenges, it offers unique equipment that all children enjoy including a large sandbox, slides and climbing opportunities. | 303.221.7827 | 5420 S. Quebec St. #103 | Greenwood Village, CO 80111

starctrMile High Mamas is proud to partner with the STAR (Sensory Therapies And Research) Center, which is the premier treatment and research center for children and families impacted by sensory processing and feeding disorders, ADHD, autism and other developmental disorders.

Sensory Processing Disorder: Joshua’s Story and the STAR Center’s Treament

Joshua’s Story

 “I felt helpless because I couldn’t tell other people (including the school) what to do to help Joshua because I didn’t know myself. It is heartbreaking to find out that your child has SPD and not have any idea what to do about it.  Very quickly I went from wondering if I was just a bad parent to knowing that I was completely inadequate to deal with the new reality and not knowing where to look to find the answers.”

                      –Joshua’s Mom

Joshua was withdrawn, prone to outbursts of anger, reluctant to try new things and had communication challenges. Joshua’s mom searched online and found the STAR Center whose therapy program was pioneered as an intensive model… so kids progress faster.    

 What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

Sensory Processing Disorder affects 1 in 20 children, which is approximately one child in every classroom. Sadly, misdiagnosis is common because many health care professionals are not trained to recognize sensory issues.

 The symptoms of SPD vary greatly depending upon the sense that is affected, how that sense is affected, and the severity of the condition. People with SPD misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement. They may feel bombarded by information, they may seek out intense sensory experiences, or they may be unaware of sensations that others feel. They may have feeding and weight/growth difficulties. They may also have sensory-motor symptoms such as a weak body, clumsiness or awkwardness or delayed motor skills.

Joshua’s Therapy

The therapist at the STAR Center spent a lot of time pushing Joshua’s social limits. She engaged him in a lot of play that forced him to learn to negotiate, listen to other people’s ideas and compromise. She also worked on helping him translate his thoughts into more articulate language so that he would be able to communicate better with others. She didn’t punish Joshua for his misbehavior. She mentored him and tried to help him analytically understand the different outcomes of his behavior.  This usually led him to self-correction and it was amazing to watch him grow through this process.  

“I have seen Joshua emerge socially in his awareness of his surroundings (no more talking in front of him because he actually listens and responds now).  It seems like his intellect has also been unlocked and he is chatty and interested in everything. He seems confident about going to school.  He is more articulate in his speech (ie. he is able to tell me what he wants or thinks) and doesn’t seem so reluctant to try new things.  And he is fun!!!  He hasn’t been that in a while. Before therapy, I would have never known what to do and I certainly would have gone to bed feeling like a complete failure as a parent.  Thank you for giving me the tools to overcome all of that. It was an absolutely incredible experience! ” 

 starcenterSTAR Center, a Colorado 501(c)(3), is the premier treatment center for children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder, feeding disorders, and other sensory issues associated with other conditions such as ADHD, autism, and a wide variety of additional developmental disorders. Mile High Mamas has partnered with Star Center on this promotion. | 303.221.7827

Douglas County Libraries’ story times for autistic kids welcomed

The sensory-enhanced story time at the Highlands Ranch Library is great for Holly del Campo and her 2 1/2-year-old son, Nolan, because she said it’s so hard to keep him engaged.

He has sensory processing disorder, which means he interprets the world differently than others through his senses, but also has a hard time sitting still and keeping engaged in regular story time. She said he was diagnosed at 2 when he was not speaking.

“It’s great that places like the library are aware of it,” del Campo said. “It’s hard to go to the library because he goes from thing to thing.”

The sensory-enhanced story time was designed for children along the autism spectrum, or any child who is differently abled. Douglas County Libraries designed it over nine months CLICK TO READ FULL STORY