As humans all of our skill development and interpretation of the environment has been based on our ability to adequately take in and interpret sensory inputs and produce appropriate responses. Different people have different sensory needs and most of the time these do not interfere with our ability to function to fulfil our various everyday roles - however some children are known to have difficulty in registering and processing sensory information, and this can lead to having a range of responses that are not appropriate for the situation they face. These difficulties can take the form of anything from interpreting the environment as a threat through to having difficulty in registering what is going on around them. Either way it affects their ability to engage socially, educationally and functionally.
Sensory processing issues are complex. Determining how much a child's behaviour is influenced by a significant sensory difficulty, if indeed at all, involves extended assessments and observation of a child in a variety of settings. What can seem like a simple response to sensory input may actually have a complicated emotional, psychological, social or behavioural basis. Also a child's response to sensory triggers can vary enormously from day-to-day making it difficult to interpret and to provide strategies that work consistently.
It is important to understand that the diagnosis 'Sensory Processing Disorder' (SPD) is not yet recognised by the medical profession as a distinct stand-alone diagnosis and sensory issues are at present considered symptoms of other more global diagnoses such as Autistic Spectrum Disoder (ASD), ADHD, dyspraxia or general developmental delay. Research about the effectiveness of direct treatments that focus on changing the child's sensory systems are inconclusive and as such are not considered mainstream NHS treatments.
Our approach to sensory processing recognises these issues and focuses on:
Further sensory assessment may occur if we determine that the sensory issues are significantly impacting on specific areas of activities of daily living but for a more comprehensive assessment of whether the child's sensory issues are affecting their behaviour or social skills advice will have to be sought from a specialist who is trained in assessment of complex sensory issues.