Helping Clients With Sensory Processing Challenges

Helping Clients With Sensory Processing Challenges.

Understanding the difficulties clients face with a sensory processing disorder and how you can help support and treat sensory sensitive clients in the most safest, effective and helpful way. If you are a therapist, coach, counsellor or healer.

 

What is a Sensory Process Disorder?

A sensory processing disorder is also known as sensory integration dysfunction it is when multisensory information is not processed in the brain properly to in relation to the pressures of the environment. Sensory processing disorders are common in those on the autistic spectrum, attention deficient hyperactivity disorder and dyspraxia.

 

Sensory Process Challenges

Each individual with a sensory processing disorder or sensory integration challenge will have different variations in their sensory challenges. For example some children and adults experience certain types of sensory input too little while others too much.

This can show up as everything from noise sensitivity and hyperacusis, smell, taste, tactile, balance, body awareness and internal bodily sensations.

Examples Of Sensory Processing Challenges

  • Heat –  in relation to temperature, humidity, wind, sunburn, water, liquids
  • Food Taste/Texture  – smooth, mushy, hard, sweet, spicy, acidic, too many tastes, too many textures, too many colours
  • Light – as in level of brightness, colours of light, indoor light or outdoor light, screen color,
  • Movement – in relation to co-ordination, balance, moving the body in specific ways, multi-tasking
  • Sound – level of noise, type of noise, background noise
  • Tactile sensitives –  types of fabric, materials, liquids, foods, touch, light or heavy massage 

 

Dysfunction In Sensory Integration

The work of occupational therapist and psychologist Ann Jayne Ayres on Sensory Integration, and Charles S Herrington has helped gives us much better understanding of “dysfunction in sensory integrative processes

Since then work in this area has evolved in many different areas, including a lot more support and different types of therapy for sensory processing disorders in children.

 

My Personal Challenges With Sensory Processing Problems

Over  10 years ago, I found myself with sensory processing issues and other issues associated with complications of sepsis, especially debilitating hyperacusis and motor skill issues. That would trigger a complex movement disorder and non-epileptic seizures.

The big trigger seem to be after surviving life threatening sepsis which left with a lot of different neurological issues, including nerve damage, numbness, co-ordination and motor skill issues.

Like many adults with sensory processing issues I was given no advice, help, support, treatment or any rehabilitation after leaving hospital even though I was left with lot of nerve damage, muscle weakness and problems particularly down the right side of my body.

I was left mostly housebound due to non-epileptic seizures and movement disorders caused by vibration and noise sensitivity. Important and urgent hospital appointments would leave me ill for weeks.

Even though I had supported many clients especially children and teenagers with sensory issues over the years.

Being in the clients shoes helped me see and experience the reality, overwhelm and misunderstanding many children and clients with sensory processing issues face on a daily basis. How difficult some of the most basic tasks we tend to take for granted can be.

Supporting Clients Who Have Sensory Processing Challenges

 

Ask The Right Questions:

One of the most important things with supporting clients with any sensory issues is asking enough of the right questions to identify the clients specific sensory issues and to what degree it impacts their ability to function, process certain information and do certain tasks. Find out if they have specific needs for example maybe they cannot tolerate certain smells or scents like perfume, essential oils, low sounds, certain fabrics or textures.

 

Do A Risk Assessment

Doing a very simple stress risk assessment in your clinic or online set-up prior to a session with a sensory sensitive client can help reduce potential triggers for the client or student. Such as doing what you can do to reduce or minimise unwanted and unexpected sounds. Arranging appointments for clients during quite times in a normally busy clinic can be really helpful. Making sure you aren’t wearing strong perfumes, burning incense or diffusing essential oils.

 

Reducing and Manging Stressors

One of the most effective ways to help minimise and reduce sensory difficulties is supporting the client manage their anxiety and stress, soothe the nervous system. No matter how extreme the challenges are the more we can support the nervous system the better you can support the client and their challenges. Relaxation Therapy is particularly very useful and is an important aspect of many sensory integration therapy programs.

 

Slow Down, Don’t Rush Sessions

The last thing that a sensory challenged client needs is feel rushed, overwhelmed or pressurised. Their brain function is competing for energy and attention the last thing they need is a therapist, coach or counsellor who isn’t allowing them enough space and time to process information. So it’s worth allowing a little more time for clients with these issues. And to recognise that clients with these problems may find that they need to pace themself more and may require more sessions to get the results other clients do.

 

Relaxation Techniques For Holistic Health Experts, Therapists, Counsellors, Healers

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