Sensory Processing Strategies in Action

Noah. You might know someone like him even if you have never met him. A rambunctious little boy, Noah craves jumping, running, spinning and crashing into, well, anything. Noah has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

SPD is a neurological disorder in which the sensory
information that a person perceives gets “mixed up” in their brain and leads to
inappropriate responses. For example, most people recognize that the sounds of the
air conditioning kicking on or the ice maker filling are normal household
noises and don’t require our attention. However, some children with SPD treat
every sound they hear with the same urgency as a fire alarm blaring. Sensory processing can affect any
person and some studies show that 5-16% of all children exhibit symptoms of

Noah’s case, his sensory system is under responsive to most sensory input; therefore,
his responds by constantly seeking sensory stimulation and overall, just has difficulty keeping his arousal level
“just right.”
times when Noah comes to occupational therapy, he is very disorganized from the
sensory stimulation of the day (sounds, lights, movement, etc.) With 30 minutes
of intense sensory input from swinging, spinning, crashing, jumping and heavy
work tasks, Noah is able to nicely attend to tasks in a distracting environment
(pictured above).


therapy, Noah responds well to wearing a compression weighted vest and ankle
weights (pictured). These weights
help ground his body and give him sensory input which allows him to attain
higher level skills such as completing more structured tasks. Also, he responds
well to wiggle seats in his chair which help provide him with sensory input
while focusing on the table top task.

therapists have extensive knowledge about SPD and are specially trained to provide
individualized treatment, as well as develop home programs, for children with
SPD. With implementation and carryover of these strategies, Noah and all
children with sensory needs have tremendous potential for success in their

–      Erin Kizzar, MOT, OTR/L