In this video, Amanda Martinage will talk about Part Two of Tactile Processing, specifically how to address dysfunction. Amanda also discusses about sensory processing difficulties techniques: Using a sensory diet, which addresses the deficit. Adapting the environment, which compensates for the deficit. And structuring routines that provides predictability.
MARTINAGE: Hi. My name's Amanda Martinage. I'm an occupational therapist and I work at Case Collaborative. And today's Teachable Moment, we will talk about Part Two of tactile processing, specifically how to address dysfunction.
So when we're thinking about sensory processing difficulties even greater than tactile, all of our techniques involve three different things. Using a sensory diet, which addresses the deficit. Adapting the environment, which compensates for the deficit. And structuring routines. And that just provides predictability.
Oftentimes we find children with sensory processing difficulties, specifically sensory modulation difficulties, they have a hard time transitioning from one thing to the next because they're not really quite sure what's going to come next and how that's going to impact their bodies. And so providing some sort of predictability is really helpful.
So those three strategies are used with all of the different kinds of difficulties — sensory processing difficulties. So if we're going to break it down specific to tactile processing difficulties, let's figure out — first of all, we have the, if you remember, two different kinds of tactile difficulties. You have hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity.
So addressing hypersensitivity, basically you want — there are a couple overall things you want to think about. You want to introduce difficult experiences using a structured, predictable, and really caring approach. Because if you think about any of us if we're really sensitive to something, you don't want it being shoved right down your throat. You want somebody to come introduce what the experience is and provide you some information about it. And being — you would hope that they're respectful about your trepidation.
The second thing you really want to keep in mind is the greater the exposure to an item, the more your body begins to accept that input. So when you think about a sensitivity, in theory it should get better the more you are exposed to it. So if you have that caring approach with a structure, the more positive experiences you have with something that initially might be averse, the more you can get your body used to it, the more likely you are to overcome that aversion.
If we think about techniques specific to tactile hypersensitivity and relate it to that first slide that I talked about — when we think about sensory diets, structuring the routine, and then also providing opportunities throughout the day. Specific to hypersensitivity, those — creating sensory diets is something that — activities that you're going to do throughout the day that are going to allow an opportunity to practice or to get the information that you're looking for.
Structuring the routine and the sensory diets go hand-in-hand. So if you think about structuring the routines, you're thinking about providing opportunities for a child to be exposed to the things that they're not totally loving right now.
So if I think about somebody who's working on accepting new foods, you would like to provide that opportunity a little bit during breakfast time, a little bit during lunch, a little bit during dinner time. And have that predictability so that they're able to know that — they have the opportunity to practice it. Because we know the more they practice, the more likely they are going to be to accept input.
And then have some rules around difficult times. So relating it back to eating, say OK. It's OK. You don't have to eat this food right now. But there is a rule. You have to at least touch it to your lips and then you can put it in the all done box and you can be finished with it. So having rules — say they're not liking touching different materials like glue. OK. We have this arts and crafts activity. It's OK. You know what, if you get glue on your hands you can just wipe it off. Not a big deal. There are rules around difficult times.
The next thing that you can think about is adapting the environment. So maybe instead of — what if we think about that rule, the glue example. Maybe they don't have to use the glue. Maybe they can use a paint brush. So that they have the paint, they apply the glue with the paint brush. That's adapting the environment so that it's not creating the anxiety that goes around touching something averse.
The next area we're going to talk about is tactile hyposensitivity. So the big things to think about there are providing exposure to intense tactile input throughout the day. So this is where your sensory diet comes in. Because hyposensitivity means that they're seeking out more tactile information, you want to provide that in an appropriate way.
So instead of them rolling around on the carpet, you would like to give them an opportunity where that's OK. You don't want them rolling around in the middle of a lesson. But maybe during break time, that's OK. So making sure that you allow those opportunities to happen throughout the day.
You're using tactile objects like fidget toys to promote greater attention when you are trying to learn in the media tasks. So maybe during group time they're allowed to hold onto their favorite fidget toy. And that helps give them that attention immediately to the lesson. And then you're providing intense oral input if there's that oral — seeking out oral information. Like chewy tubes, like giving strong tastes like spicy or sour foods throughout the day, or foods that have a crunchy texture. So that's giving them a lot of tactile information orally that they can help — if they get that more regularly during the day, they're less likely to put inappropriate objects in their mouth.
So if we relate it back to those three different ways of addressing sensory processing difficulties: sensory diet and structuring the routines. So you're creating those opportunities throughout the day. You're scheduling them so that it's happening regularly. So you're going to get those break times, so that when they need to sit down they're able to sit and focus with greater attention. And then adapting the environment, providing alternative seating positions. So maybe working in a chair and at a table isn't great. But if you have carpet squares and you sit on the floor, that might be a better way of getting attention so that the child's able to focus.
So how do we know what we're doing, if it's working? The big thing is children and individuals react to different sensory information differently. So the way you know that it's working is that the child has better attention during specific activities and throughout the day. And you're noticing less meltdowns or less difficult times. So if those things decrease, then keep doing what you're doing because you're on the right track.
Here are some additional resources you may want to take a look at online that you may find helpful. Keep in mind, though, that these online resources tend to focus on tactile hyposensitivity. And you always just want to remember what the dysfunction is. Understanding how the child is acting is going to impact what you do for that.
So that's it. Thanks for watching. I hope you found it helpful I'm Amanda Martinage and that today's Teachable Moment.
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