The Misunderstood Child: Sensory Processing 101

. December 1, 2016.
“Exposure is crucial” for Sensory Processing Disorder.
“Exposure is crucial” for Sensory Processing Disorder.

By Sarah Lyons & Rick Neale

A typical morning in my home begins with the words, “My clothes hurt me. They are too loose. I need new clothes.” As a result, I begin the search for the “right” clothes for my 4-year-old daughter.

After much time, many tears, lots of tight hugs, and a good dose of frustration, she begins her day in the same dress she wore the previous day– and many days prior to that. The process of getting dressed, which seems simple to most, is the biggest challenge my child faces on a daily basis.

This situation illustrates one example of what living with a child with Sensory Processing Disorder is like.

Get answers as soon as you begin to wonder

“Early intervention is crucial. Sensory Processing Disorder happens anytime the brain is just having a difficult time receiving or recognizing the senses,” said Sarah Crisp, founder and CEO of Awakening Minds Art. “It doesn’t let the brain properly process those senses, so they’re operating with a deficiency of those senses.”

Crisp said a majority of parents seek help because their child is a “sensory avoider.” Because of hypersensitive responses to sensory input, these kids may be:

  • Distracted by noises that sound normal to others, such as flushing toilets and clanking  silverware
  • Fearful of hugs or surprise touch
  • Avoiders of swings and playground equipment
  • Frequent fallers with poor balance

Help is available

To help these children, Awakening Minds Art operates a sensory store offering specialized socks, wiggle seats, chewies, pressure vests and other items. “Exposure, exposure, exposure is crucial, especially to those individuals who are avoiding sensory,” Crisp said.

Sensory Processing creates challenges for families, but other treatments are also available for kids who struggle. “We had a fabulous occupational therapist that helped my son,” said Joy Alsup, mother of four. “She gave us tools and gave him permission to figure out what worked for him and what didn’t. He has a high need for tight, long hugs and we understand that this is what helps him. It’s a huge priority for us.”

The Awakening Minds Art sensory store is located at the nonprofit’s Findlay studio,
515 S. Main St. Call 419-302-3892 for a consultation Sarah Lyons is a wife and mother of six.
The inspiration for this article came from her daughter,
Grace, who was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder in 2014.