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Calgary Child Psychologist Sensory Processing Challenges
Sensory processing difficulties can impact a child’s functioning as much as any other diagnostic condition. Sensory processing challenges often exist with other conditions. Children with ADHD, Anxiety, ASD, and other mood disorders often experience additional difficulties with sensory processing. With such conditions, children experience an additional taxing on their neurological systems, and as such it can be difficult to detect where the primary challenge exists. Creative Sky Psychology can help with ideas to support or provide accommodations to children with challenges with their sensory systems. When a child has an extreme response to the environment, such as aversion to smells, noises, light, food textures, temperatures, touch, individuals may act in negative ways and have a behavioural response. This can look like crying, aggression, additional irritability, or anxiety. Creative Sky Psychology helps children, teens, and supportive adults understand the sensory system, recognize the clues, and learn how to manage the responses. There are many clues that children are having a sensory challenge or meltdown, however it can present as a behavioural “episode” or a mental health issue and easily "get missed". Often times, it all exists together and it can be difficult to pull apart. For example, when a child becomes anxious, their body will respond to the anxious thoughts, and in this moment, a minor sensory sensitivity can present as a big challenge. Their window of tolerance or ability to cope will be much lower in this particular moment. This can be confusing for parents or supportive adults who see the child as able to cope with something minor in one moment, yet have an explosion in the next. This is also why punishment and reward systems often do not work. Children want to be good, however when they cannot meet the expectations, things can become quite challenging for everyone involved. Creative Sky Psychology specializes in “behavioural investigative work”. This involves going under the surface to discover the true challenges.
When to Seek Professional for Your Child?
If you suspect your child has sensory issues, there are signs that may indicate it’s time to see a health care professional.
1. The behaviors caused by Sensory challenges interrupts regular life
2. Signs and symptoms of Sensory Processing challenges become difficult to manage
3. Your child or teen seems either over or under responsive to environmental changes
What is the Impact of Sensory Processing Challenges on Children?
Children with Sensory Processing difficulties are frequently impacted in the home, community, and school. Often children or teens with sensory issues benefit from environmental modifications to build success. Child and teens with sensory challenges are often impacted in emotional, social, and academic areas as well. Children may appear uncooperative, disruptive, and "out of control." Anxiety, depression, aggression, and various behaviour issues can often be observed when a child's sensory threshold has been exceeded. The sensory challenges a child or teen faces are often missed. Once they are discovered, change can occur. Treatment involves some investigation and modification to the environment while a child or teen works through such issues.
How does Creative Sky Psychology support Children and Teens with Sensory Processing Challenges?
Creative Sky Psychology and Sensory Processing Challenges
Creative Sky Psychology supports children and teens with Sensory Processing challenges, and often in conjunction with an Occupational Therapist. Creative Sky Psychology supports Sensory Processing difficulties from a regulation lens. Regulation is linked to a child’s sensory system, their energy levels, emotions, or anything else that may be impacting their ability to experience the environment in an adaptive way. Children with regulation challenges may move their bodies excessively and run or jump around at inappropriate times. Safety may also become a concern with sensory issues. Some children have very little energy and may need energizing activities to try and activate their regulation levels. Regulation activities should be appropriate to a child’s developmental level and interests, and often requires a trial and error approach as individuals vary in their responses to calming and energizing strategies.
Environmental modification can be an important part of intervention for children with regulation challenges. For example a child who is impacted by loud noises may have difficulties with coping emotionally or learning in the classroom, as their window of tolerance becomes smaller. Some children also have difficulties with low or bright lights, food textures, clothing or tactile preferences, and sensitivity or aversion to touch. It is important to learn about your child’s sensory preferences as they play an important role in how your child interacts with their environment. Minor sensitivities over the day can add up to one big meltdown at night. Something as simple as the wrong socks can impact a child’s ability to have a good day at school. This can seem confusing to parents or teachers who aren’t aware of the role that the sensory system plays in our well-being. Creative Sky Psychology supports children and teens who need regulation support by examining the challenges, creating a sensory profile, and implementing ideas for well-being.