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Thriving in the Midst of Chaos: Parenting With Special Needs Kids

Jul 9, 2020

Episode 43: Managing Sensory Processing Disorder With Guest Erin Grujic

In this episode, we discuss sensory processing disorder and how occupational therapy can assist. Sensory processing disorder looks like different things in different people. Everyone, neurotypical or not, has different sensory preferences and it is important to make sure those sensory needs are met. This disorder can be difficult to get diagnosed since it is not in the DSM-5. However, occupational therapists can assess the child's sensory needs and aversions and how their sensory processing impacts a child's daily functioning.

Regarding touch, when children have lots of touch needs, the child may not be able to their hands to themselves and they like to touch everything. They like to be messy and they are seeking more input. When a child is touch avoidant, they don't like having their body washed or their hair cut. In some kids, their brain doesn't make sense of touch, and so they don't know how much pressure to use when writing or how strong or light they are being. A child who is visual averse might be overwhelmed by bright lights and rooms. Additionally, when there is a lot of information on the page, sometimes the words can jumble and things might not make sense to the child.

For auditory aversion, sounds can be too loud and the child may need to use headphones. If they aren't processing the auditory information properly, parents can make eye contact or tap the child on the shoulder to make sure that the child is attending. For vestibular dysfunction or aversion, there is too much input into your vestibular and visual system. Some children get car sick, are scared of heights, or have a fear of their feet leaving the ground. On the other side, children may not be able to sit still or they might love to spin. They tend to want to move and climb and jump and need more input.

In a sensory diet, it is important to give the child the big input they need, like running, climbing, jumping, and crawling through tunnels. Vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile input are the three most important things to include in the sensory diet, because children get the most out of them more quickly. Proprioception is heavy work which gives information to the joints, but it can ramp up or calm down the nervous system, depending on what the body needs at that moment. Trampolines, exercise, and lifting are really good. However, it depends on the child and what he or she needs at that moment.

To implement this, find a therapist that has the right training. They will try different activities in session and see what works for the child and then will teach the parents and teachers how to implement this. They will teach parents to notice when a child needs more or less sensory input.

Links for Erin:

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Show Music:
Intro Outro: Intro Outro 2 by Mattias Lahoud under CC-BY 3.0 License (
Theme Song: 90s rock style by monkeyman535 under CC-BY 3.0 License (
Self Care Song: Green and Orange No Water by Duncan Alex under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple

Disclaimer: Our show is not designed to provide listeners with specific or personal legal, medical, or professional services or advice. Parents of children with health issues should always consult their health care provider for medical advice, medication, or treatment.

Copyright 2020 Jessica and Lewis Temple