Sensory Symphony: Navigating Sensory Processing Challenges in Children with Therapy Care

Sensory Symphony: Navigating Sensory Processing Challenges in Children with Therapy Care

December 22, 2023

In the intricate tapestry of child development, sensory processing plays a symphonic role, orchestrating the harmony between the nervous system and the external world. At Therapy Care, our pediatric clinic, we understand the critical importance of sensory processing in a child’s well-being. In this comprehensive guide from a pediatric occupational perspective, we will delve into the signs of sensory processing challenges in children, explore sensory activities tailored to different age groups, and shed light on how our dedicated occupational therapists at Therapy Care are uniquely positioned to provide support and guidance.

Understanding Sensory Processing

Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives and interprets sensory information from the environment. This includes the traditional five senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell—as well as two additional senses: proprioception (awareness of body position) and vestibular (balance and spatial orientation). For some children, the intricate dance of sensory input can pose challenges, leading to sensory processing difficulties.

Signs of Sensory Processing Challenges in Children:

1. Hyperactivity or Hypoactivity:
    • Overreacting or underreacting to sensory stimuli, such as lights, sounds, or touch.
2. Poor Coordination:
    • Difficulty in coordinating movements, leading to challenges in activities like catching a ball or tying shoelaces.
3. Sensitivity to Textures:
    • Strong aversions or preferences for certain textures of clothing, food, or surfaces.
4. Difficulty with Transitions:
    • Struggling to navigate changes in routine or transitions between activities.
5. Avoidance of Certain Activities:
    • Refusal to participate in activities that involve specific sensory input, such as messy play or crowded environments.
6. Challenges with Fine Motor Skills:
    • Difficulty with tasks that require precision, like using scissors or writing.
7. Intolerance to Certain Smells or Sounds:
    • Strong reactions to specific smells, sounds, or tastes that may not bother others.
8. Limited Play Exploration:
    • Restricting play activities to those that provide predictable sensory input, avoiding exploration of new textures or sensations.

Sensory Activities for Different Ages

Infants (0-12 months):

1. Tummy Time:
    • Promotes body awareness and strengthens neck and upper body muscles.
2. Soft Texture Exploration:
    • Introduce soft fabrics or textures during playtime.
3. Gentle Movement:
    • Rocking or swaying to soothe and provide vestibular input.

Toddlers (1-3 years):

1. Sensory Bins:
    • Create bins with materials like rice, beans, or sand for tactile exploration.
2. Balance Activities:
    • Encourage simple balance activities like walking on a line or balancing on one foot.
3. Messy Play:
    • Finger painting or playing with playdough to explore different textures.

Preschoolers (3-5 years):

1. Obstacle Courses:
    • Set up simple obstacle courses to promote gross motor coordination.
2. Sensory Play with Water:
    • Water play provides both tactile and proprioceptive input.
3. Scented Art:
    • Incorporate scented markers or paints into art activities.

School-Age Children (6-12 years):

1. Swinging Activities:
    • Swinging provides vestibular input and can be calming.
2. Fine Motor Challenges:
    • Engage in activities that challenge fine motor skills, such as beading or building with small blocks.
3. Alternative Seating:
    • Allow for seating options like stability balls or cushions to promote better focus.

Adolescents (13-18 years):

1. Team Sports:
    • Engaging in team sports provides diverse sensory experiences.
2. Weighted Blankets or Vests:
    • Providing deep pressure through weighted items can be calming for some adolescents.
3. Fidget Tools:
    • Allow the use of fidget tools like stress balls or textured items during tasks.

How Therapy Care Occupational Therapists Can Help

At Therapy Care, our occupational therapists are well-equipped to assess, understand, and address sensory processing challenges in children. Our approach is tailored to each child’s unique needs, emphasizing collaboration with parents, caregivers, and other professionals involved in the child’s care. Here’s how our occupational therapists can make a significant impact:

1. Comprehensive Sensory Assessments:
  • Our therapists conduct thorough sensory assessments to identify specific areas of strength and challenges.
2. Personalized Intervention Plans:
  • Based on assessment results, individualized intervention plans are crafted to address specific sensory processing difficulties.
3. Sensory Integration Therapy:
  • Therapy sessions include evidence-based sensory integration techniques to help children process and respond to sensory input more effectively.
4. Fine and Gross Motor Coordination:
  • Our therapists work on enhancing both fine and gross motor coordination, addressing challenges caused by sensory processing difficulties in movement and precision.
5. Environmental Adaptations:
  • Recommendations for adapting the child’s environment to support sensory needs, whether at home or school.
6. Sensory Diets:
  • Developing personalized sensory diets through collaboration with parents, which provide structured activities that provide the right amount and type of sensory input to regulate a child’s nervous system.
7. Parent and Caregiver Education:
  • We provide education and guidance to parents and caregivers, empowering them to support their child’s sensory needs in everyday activities.
8. Collaboration with Other Professionals:
  • Our therapists collaborate with educators, speech therapists, and other professionals to ensure a holistic approach to the child’s care.
9. Progress Monitoring:
  • Regular assessments and progress monitoring allow our therapists to adjust interventions as needed, ensuring continuous improvement.


At Therapy Care, we believe in nurturing the unique sensory needs of every child, recognizing that sensory processing plays a pivotal role in their overall well-being and development. Our dedicated occupational therapists are passionate about guiding children through their sensory journey.  For more information, if you have questions or would like to schedule, please contact one of our offices

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