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    Sensory Processing Disorder

    Causes of Sensory Processing Disorder

    The exact cause of sensory processing problems has not been identified. But a 2006 study of twins found that hypersensitivity to light and sound may have a strong genetic component.

    Other experiments have shown that children with sensory processing problems have abnormal brain activity when they are simultaneously exposed to light and sound.

    Still other experiments have shown that children with sensory processing problems will continue to respond strongly to a stroke on the hand or a loud sound, while other children quickly get used to the sensations.

    Treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder

    Many families with an affected child find that it is hard to get help. That's because sensory processing disorder isn't a recognized medical diagnosis at this time.

    Despite the lack of widely accepted diagnostic criteria, occupational therapists commonly see and treat children and adults with sensory processing problems.

    Treatment depends on a child's individual needs. But in general, it involves helping children do better at activities they're normally not good at and helping them get used to things they can't tolerate.

    Treatment for sensory processing problems is called sensory integration. The goal of sensory integration is to challenge a child in a fun, playful way so he or she can learn to respond appropriately and function more normally.

    One type of therapy is called the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based (DIR) model. The therapy was developed by Stanley Greenspan, MD, and Serena Wieder, PhD.

    A major part of this therapy is the "floor-time" method. The method involves multiple sessions of play with the child and parent. The play sessions last about 20 minutes.

    During the sessions, parents are first asked to follow the child's lead, even if the playtime behavior isn't typical. For example, if a child is rubbing the same spot on the floor over and over, the parent does the same. These actions allow the parent to "enter" into the child's world.

    This is followed by a second phase, where parents use the play sessions to create challenges for the child. The challenges help pull the child into what Greenspan calls a "shared" world with the parent. And the challenges create opportunities for the child to master important skills in areas such as:

    • Relating
    • Communicating
    • Thinking

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