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A quick guide to understanding if your child experiences sensory processing differences.

Parenting comes with its unique set of challenges, and for some families, understanding and navigating sensory processing difficulties may be part of the journey. If you are reading this blog, perhaps you have had thoughts around your child's sensory needs. In this blog we aim to assist you as parents in identifying potential signs of sensory processing challenges in their children, addressing the daily challenges these families may face, and providing guidance on where to seek help in the United Kingdom.

Identifying Signs of Sensory Processing Difficulties:

1. Sensory Sensitivities:

- Behaviours: Strong reactions to certain textures, sounds, smells, or tastes.

- Challenges: Difficulty tolerating specific clothing, aversion to certain foods, or a strong dislike of loud noises.

2. Overreacting or Underreacting to Stimuli:

- Behaviours: Extreme reactions to sensory input, either becoming overwhelmed or seeking out intense stimuli.

- Challenges: Difficulty finding the right balance in response to sensory input, leading to challenges in daily activities.

3. Motor Coordination Issues:

- Behaviours: Frequent clumsiness, challenges with fine or gross motor skills.

- Challenges: Difficulty with activities such as writing, tying shoelaces, or participating in sports (can be avoidant or apprehensive).

4. Resistance to Changes in Routine:

- Behaviours: Strong resistance or anxiety when faced with changes in routine or environment.

- Challenges: Difficulty adapting to new situations or transitions.

5. Social Challenges:

- Behaviours: Difficulty in social interactions, withdrawal or avoidance in group settings.

- Challenges: Struggles in making friends or engaging in cooperative play.

Daily Challenges for Families:

1. Mealtime Struggles:

- Challenge: Difficulty managing aversions to certain food textures or smells, sitting at the table or using a knife and fork.

- Impact: Mealtime stress and potential nutritional concerns.

2. Morning and Bedtime Routines:

- Challenge: Resistance to clothing, difficulty with hygiene routines and/or does not recognise that they are tired.

- Impact: Struggles in establishing consistent morning and bedtime routines.

3. Sensory Overload in Public Spaces:

- Challenge: Difficulty navigating crowded or stimulating environments.

- Impact: Social withdrawal, meltdowns, or challenges participating in community activities.

4. Academic Performance:

- Challenge: Concentration difficulties, copying, listening to instructions whilst writing at the same time, challenges with fine motor tasks.

- Impact: Potential academic struggles, frustration, and self-esteem issues.

Where to Seek Help in the UK:

1. General Practitioner (GP): Start by discussing your concerns with your child's GP. They can provide guidance and may refer you to specialists if necessary.

2. Occupational Therapists (OTs): OTs specialize in addressing sensory processing challenges. They can assess your child's needs and provide strategies to support them.

3. Educational Psychologists: If challenges are impacting academic performance, an educational psychologist can assess and provide recommendations for school-based support.

4. Speech and Language Therapists: Some children with sensory processing difficulties may benefit from the expertise of speech and language therapists, especially if there are communication challenges.

5. Local Support Groups: Connecting with local support groups or online communities can provide valuable insights and emotional support. Organizations like the National Autistic Society in the UK offer resources and community connections.

Identifying and addressing sensory processing difficulties is a crucial step in supporting your child's well-being. By recognizing specific behaviours and understanding the daily challenges your family may face, you can take proactive steps to seek professional help and connect with supportive communities. The journey may have its ups and downs, but with the right guidance, you can empower your child and create an environment that fosters their unique strengths and abilities.

Kate and Nicole x

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