This article by the Child Mind Institute reviews frequently asked questions regarding sensory processing disorder. This is a great resource to begin understanding sensory processing, and a great resource to share with teachers, family and close friends.
This diagram illustrates how sensory processing skills are foundational for higher level development, such as social and academic skills. When a child is having difficulty with age appropriate activities or behavior, the occupational therapist conducts standardized testing and structured clinical observations to determine if there are deficits in sensory motor processing.
If there are deficits in sensory motor development, addressing those skills is more effective than solely using a behavioral or cognitive approach.
Occupational therapists use a play-based approach while addressing sensory motor skills, since play is how children naturally learn. They are experts at setting up activities that are the “just right challenge” in order to best facilitate the child’s growth.
These handouts are perfect for giving parents an extended list of sensory activities that can be tried at home.
Observe your child’s response during and after, to determine which sensory activity has the best impact on your child. Never insist on or force sensory activities. You’ll most likely get the best results by modeling the activity and then responding to your child’s cues.
Meeting your child’s sensory needs is a dynamic processes, and requires some trial and error. Don’t forget to have fun in the process!
Check out these handouts by Piller Child Development. They have great sensory diet activities. I especially like the proprioception handout.
There are also educational resources for understanding sensory processing. They are perfect for sharing with teachers, neighbors, coaches and extended family members.