Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory Integration
  • Sensory processing describes the way each individual interprets their environment through their senses. The sensory input that we receive by interacting with objects through taste, touch, sound, sight, and smell helps us learn more about the world around us. As we grow, our sensory preferences develop and become unique to each person.
  • Signs of a sensory processing difficulty are an extreme response to or fear of noises, being distracted by background noises others don’t hear, fear of crowds poor balance or may fall often, sensitivity to clothing textures, doesn’t understand personal space, fidgety and unable to sit still or seems to be a thrill seeker are a few.
  • Our sensory systems are an integral part of learning and nervous system development. In order to develop higher-level learning skills, such as gross motor coordination to walk or skip and language skills to communicate, we first need to have regulated sensory systems. If any sensory system is not regulated, then a child’s ability to learn and develop new skills can be impaired as a result. Our sensory systems are the foundation of our nervous system and if that foundation isn’t sound or strong, then learning new things, like how to put on a shirt or tie shoes, becomes extremely difficult

If you identify a Sensory Processing Difficulty with your Child:

  • If your child has sensory processing difficulties, then it’s unlikely that they will “outgrow” that. If anything, children might eventually “grow into” their sensory processing abilities, meaning they might eventually learn the strategies and tools they need to meet their unique sensory needs best. For instance, a teenager with tactile hypersensitivity (i.e., difficulty tolerating touch or input from certain textures) might need to wear gloves when washing the dishes. Another example would be a child with vestibular hyposensitivity (i.e., requiring a significant amount of movement input to focus and concentrate), who might experience improved attention given lots of movement breaks before, during, and after doing their homework.
  • Our Occupational Therapists specialize in treating sensory processing difficulties and can help your family right away. Contact us now to schedule an evaluation to find out if your child could benefit from Occupational Therapy.

TEAM 4 Kids – Providing the Best Sensory Integration Therapy in the West Valley.

At TEAM 4 Kids, we aim to help children process the world around them and make everyday tasks easier. By customizing our pediatric occupational therapy to suit the particular needs of each child, we offer comprehensive solutions to a variety of skill deficits.  Our team consists of Speech PathologistsOccupational TherapistsFeeding TherapistsBehavior Analysts, and Physical Therapists. We are all committed to collaborating and helping every parent improve their child’s sensory processing, fine motor, and self-help skills.

Interested in our groups or classes?

Handwriting Classes

Whether your child is needing help with pre-writing skills, forming a paragraph, or legibility, we have classes for every stage of this lifelong skill.

Life Skills Classes

Life skills group participants complete laundry tasks, cook in a fully equipped kitchen, learn cleaning skills, learn personal money management, and many more hands-on activities.

Sensory Classes

Sensory play encourages the engagement of the body’s senses.  Sensory groups allow children the opportunity to explore all their senses hands-on.

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What Is Sensory Processing Therapy?
To answer this question, it’s important to first have an understanding of what sensory processing means.
Sensory processing is what happens when our bodies pick up on information from our senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing, etc.) about the world around us, then our brains interpret and react to that information. For some individuals, their sensory processing abilities might be significantly more or less sensitive than the average person which affects how they react to sensory input. For instance, some children are very sensitive to noise. Certain sounds that most people can ignore might cause these children’s brains and bodies to feel overwhelmed and cause them to melt down. Another example would be that some children don’t process deep pressure like the average person does. They might be constantly jumping, running into objects, squeezing items too tightly, and chewing on straws/fingernails/toys because their sensory system does not pick up on deep pressure as acutely as someone without sensory processing difficulty would which results in their bodies seeking much more pressure through a variety of methods.

Sensory processing therapy occurs when an occupational therapist works with individuals and their families to assess and create a plan to help meet their needs. This could help make things like toothbrushing easier to tolerate for kids that have high oral sensitivity or could help provide sensory alternatives for kids who frequently bite and chew on toys to get that pressure seeking need met through other actions.

How Do You Calm A Child With Sensory Issues?
It depends on the child, their sensory system, the environment, and the task! If a child is experiencing a sensory meltdown, then decreasing or limiting any sensory input that might be overstimulating might be helpful. That might include decreasing noise (or playing white noise, nature sounds, or instrumental music to block any irritating sounds), dimming the lights, and potentially giving the child physical space if possible while ensuring that they are safe or providing deep pressure with a tight hug if tolerated. An occupational therapist will be able to help you trial these and other sensory strategies to help identify additional ways to calm and regulate.
How Do I Know If My Child’s Actions Are Related To Sensory Issues Or Behavioral Issues?
This can sometimes be very difficult to determine! Sensory and behavioral issues might both involve hitting, biting, screaming, crying, and kicking. Sensory issues and sensory meltdowns might occur because a child’s nervous system is overwhelmed with sensory input that is difficult for them to process. These children might be inconsolable and have melt downs that last for a significant amount of time or until their nervous systems are able to regulate. Sensory meltdowns are unintentional reactions and are not within the child’s ability to control. Behavioral issues are often caused by a desire or want for something. They might stop immediately when the child gets what they want or if there is no audience. An occupational therapist can help you problem solve to determine which is contributing to your child’s actions.
How Long Does It Take For A Person’s Sensory Systems To Integrate?

Sensory “milestones” occur at a variety of different ages! For instance, oral seeking (i.e., “mouthing” objects or putting toys/items in mouth) is quite age appropriate and expected during the first year and a half to two years of a child’s life. After that point, if a child continues to want toys and objects in their mouth, then it might be that the child’s sensory processing system is having difficulty processing that input. This could potentially mean that the child is demonstrating what we call oral hyposensitivity, which means that their nervous system might need more oral input than a person with typical sensory processing abilities. Similarly, children who are unable to tolerate being messy and touching messy textures might be experiencing signs of tactile hypersensitivity. This could potentially impact their willingness to try new, messy foods or might cause them to meltdown when exposed to new textures like sand or mud because their nervous system might be processing this input at a much higher and more intense rate than for a person without sensory processing difficulties.

What Can I Do At Home To Calm My Child?

If your child is experiencing a sensory meltdown, you can try to limit the amount of sensory input around them. This could include dimming or turning off the lights (if tolerated), limiting any extraneous noise, and giving them space if possible while keeping them safe or giving them a tight hug if they tolerate deep pressure well. 

Are Kids Who Have Sensory Processing Issues Autistic?

Not necessarily-some kids are and some kids are not! Many neurodivergent (e.g., autistic) children have sensory processing issues but many neurotypical (e.g. not autistic) children have sensory processing issues, too! Sensory processing challenges are not exclusive to autistic individuals. While it’s true that many autistic children have difficulty with sensory processing, many children without autism have difficulty with sensory processing, too. Everyone has a sensory system and we all have our own unique preferences and needs for it! Some individuals may need more help than others to navigate and account for those sensory needs.

What Is Sensory Processing Therapy Used For?
It can be used for a myriad of reasons depending on each individual child’s needs! Some of our clients need help learning to tolerate loud noise, messy textures, and/or grooming tasks (e.g., hair cuts, hair brushing, nail trimming, brushing teeth). Others are looking for ways to get their deep pressure and movement needs met so that children are able to sit and engage for longer periods in order to learn new skills. Occupational therapists providing sensory processing therapy can help with all of the above and more!
How Long Will My Child Have To Attend Therapy?
This varies and is highly dependent upon the individual receiving treatment and their unique needs! Sometimes, delays or challenges with sensory processing will affect a child’s ability to regulate (i.e., being calm and ready/able to learn new skills). This might cause delays in other areas and affect a child’s ability to gain other age appropriate skills, which might lengthen the duration of treatment/therapy.
How Can I Tell If My Child’s Difficulties Are Related To Sensory Processing?
An occupational therapist can provide education and help you investigate if your child might have any sensory processing needs that might be contributing to any other difficulties they are having. The pyramid of learning is a helpful visual which illustrates how our sensory systems act as a foundation for learning new skills. If a child is frequently dysregulated (e.g., their sensory needs aren’t being met and/or they are being overstimulated), then it can be extremely difficult to learn any kind of new skill! This might include difficulty with movement, self care skills, communication, and academic learning. (Is it possible to add an image here?)
Will My Child Outgrow His/Her Sensory Issues?
If your child has sensory processing difficulties, then it’s unlikely that they will “outgrow” that. If anything, a child might eventually “grow into” their sensory processing abilities, which is to say that they might eventually learn the strategies and tools that they need to best meet their own unique sensory needs. For instance, a teenager who has tactile hypersensitivity (i.e., difficulty tolerating touch or input from certain textures) might need to wear gloves when washing the dishes. Another example would be a child with vestibular hyposensivity (i.e., needing a significant amount of movement input to focus and concentrate) who might experience improved attention given lots of movement breaks before, during, and after doing their homework.
How Is Sensory Processing Disorder Treated?
Sensory processing can be assessed and treated through occupational therapy. A licensed occupational therapist can provide a variety of sensory strategies and tools to help you and your child learn how to manage challenging or overwhelming sensory input and can also provide ideas and interventions to meet your child’s sensory needs! This process involves lots of education and investigation from you, your therapist, and your child working together as a team to create an individualized plan for your child’s unique sensory system.