Sensory Regulation in Occupational Therapy
Sensory regulation is the ability to remain modulate, focus, attend, as well as function naturally in everyday life while balancing constant sensory stimulation. The ability to regulate levels and intensity of stimulation increases by age, typically by age six most of these skills have developed to function in everyday life.
Toddlers and young children experiencing challenges regulating stimuli, May face difficulties with tactile input such as clothing textures or food textures (oral sensitivity), challenges with personal space, safety and fine/gross motor delays. These challenges can manifest into “aggressive behaviors”, difficulty at meal time, difficulty sleeping, auditory sensitivities to typical sounds such as a hair dryer, the dish washer, toilet flushes, vacuums etc., lack of safety awareness and running into the street, and fine/gross motor challenges more severe than their peers.
Occupational therapy helps to determine what sensitivities are calming, alarming, heightening, and regulating and can provide strategies for children, their families and schools to help their child to be more successful. Play based therapy such as swinging, sliding, rocking, jumping, rolling, etc. can help regulate unbalanced sensory systems. Strategies for deep pressure, vestibular, and auditory input are applied, tried and used as home based programs and therapy sessions. Occupational therapy also helps to increase fine and gross motor delays or challenges by exercising these skills with play and everyday activities such as dressing skills, pre writing and cutting skills and art!
Sensory regulation challenges affect the entire family and the child, occupational therapy can help decrease stress and unknown answers.