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What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Does your child react to loud noises, bright lights, intense smells or is a picky eater?

These are a few symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a neurological condition in children that can affect the way the brain processes information from the senses. Although this disorder is not officially recognized due to a lack of research, it is believed to be a component of the autism spectrum disorder. It is also important to know that most children who have SPD do not have autism.

There is no permanent cure for sensory issues, while some children experience fewer issues as they age, others just learn to cope with their experiences. Our role as early years providers is to ensure we provide a carefully prepared environment with ample sensory integration in a safe and nurturing environment.

While choosing a nursery setting for your child, look for an environment that exposes children to a variety of sensory experiences, both indoor and outdoor. Ask the nursery’s leadership about their behavior and discipline policies to ensure you agree with their philosophy. Some key questions are: Is there enough curriculum integration within the classroom and with additional learning such as music and movement, role play, languages and daily activities? How effective is communication and through what means are parents being notified of behavior? These are a few pointers in the right direction, but finally a mother’s instinct is always a good indicator.

As parents, we can also start with helping our child at home with some of these simple sensory integration activities:

  • Blowing bubbles onto the skin enhances the sense of touch
  • Fill a basket with different textures for exploration
  • smell different herbs in the kitchen
  • Create your own sensory trays with boiled spaghetti and food coloring
  • Free play with play dough, sand, mud and water
  • Take a sensory nature walk to explore different sounds, smells and textures
  • Cooking or baking, make a simple fruit salad to taste and touch different textures.
  • Jump! Dance! Balance!

Living with SPD is not only hard for children but parents need support too. Working together with the help of an occupational therapist and an appropriate sensory diet tailored for the child, both parent and child can achieve successful results, so stay positive and do not lose hope!

Monica Valrani

CEO and Directress

Ladybird Nurseries