How Sensory Processing Issues Can Affect Motor Skills on Australian Kids

How do you or your child feel today?

What does your kid feel inside their body when they see a loved one?

We are constantly feeling something externally and with physiological changes inside our body as well, thanks to our sensory organs. But not everyone is fortunate enough. One in every 20 children in Australia suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), which makes it difficult for them to learn, cope with simple daily tasks and make friends.

Sensory Processing, a common issue in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a complex neurological process that influences the proprioception, interoception and the vestibular sense, making it difficult for that individual to control body awareness, balance and spatial orientation. 

In easy words, someone with SPD (sensory processing disorder) finds it hard to cope with and respond to information that comes in through the senses. Kids are usually oversensitive or under-sensitive to this disorder, where sensory processing issues can affect their motor skills in several ways. 

Australian kids

Unlike the disorders in DSM-5, sensory processing is not a recognised disorder in Australia, which leads hundreds of Australian children to go without the professional help and support they need. 

And therefore, we are here today to,

  • Discuss this important issue and how it affects motor skills
  • Examine the role of mental and emotional trauma in sensory processing
  • Explore various sites in relation to SPD while bringing its signs and symptoms to light 
  • And share the solution and strategies to the sensory processing issues.

Sensory Processing Challenges 

If you dig deeper, you will find that several kids experience two types of sensory processing issues – under sensitivity (hyposensitivity) and oversensitivity (hypersensitivity). 

  1. i) Hypersensitivity can lead a child to grasp too much sensory information, which results in avoiding or getting annoyed by even a slight sound, touch, light or other things happening in their environment.

While sensory hypersensitivity can be noticed among children with no other condition or disorder, autism and sensory processing disorders, among other conditions, make people more susceptible to hypersensitivity. 

A few instances that can be triggers for sensory hypersensitivity are:

  • The texture or flavour of food
  • Loud noises and bright lights
  • The feel of fabric or any material on the skin
  • The smell of strong perfumes or even shampoo

The above points indicate the sensory organs that can be triggered. However, these triggers can vary from person to person. 

How sensory processing affect motor skills on Australian kids

“He only ate four foods. Anything else he’d spit out or refuse.” – A parent mentioned

“My visual experience is […] rather radical. […….] I take in everything in a panoramic sense — and that sometimes makes it hard for me to focus on the central thing I’m supposed to see” – Lori Sealy (who lives with autism both personally and parentally)

 

  1. ii) Hyposensitivity, on the other hand, can lead an individual or child to be unaware of sensory stimuli. This can result in a delayed or mute response, or even a response with less intensity compared to an average person.

The signs and symptoms of sensory hyposensitivity are:

  • Difficulty sensing personal boundaries.
  • Not noticing noises or wanting to increase the volume.
  • Being aloof to pain and extreme temperatures.
  • Seeking out strong smells.
  • Fidgeting

Signs, Symptoms And Impacts Of Sensory Processing On Emotion & Behaviour

If you are concerned that your child has sensory processing difficulties, then it’s beneficial for you and your kid that you understand the signs of this disorder and decide if it’s a good idea to talk to a professional. 

You should notice if,

  • Your kid finds it hard to focus.
  • He/she is always running, jumping or stomping instead of walking.
  • Your child looks for a quiet space far from noisy, crowded environments.
  • He/she avoids hugging or touching people.
  • They react strongly to being touched or bumped.
  • They avoid trying new things. 
  • He/she feels anxious.
  • They have poor balance and/or avoid eye contact.
  • Your child gets upset about even some minor changes in routine.
  • Your kid takes physical risks. 
  • He/she is clumsy and uncoordinated.

But, we humans do not just acquire sensory information through sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. A lesser-known sense, interoception, also helps us to perceive and feel what’s going on in our bodies. Issues with this particular sense can lead to problems with toilet training while having an unexpected threshold for pain.

Lack of control on one’s own movement and focusing on wrong information can result in poor emotional regulation which can further lead to mental breakdowns, frustration, anxiety, and isolation. 

sensory processing and motor skills

How Sensory Processing Impacts Motor Skills?

The motor system in your kid operates their sensory stimulation, and the sensory feedback or stimulation drives their brain. Now, this relationship between their motor skills and senses is vital to develop and improve in order to assist their behaviour and academic learning.

With problems in obtaining sensory input, your child could eventually struggle with motor skills in several ways. The following points are some of the examples depicting situations where they might feel uncomfortable or demotivated. 

  1. i) They may be unfamiliar with their own strengths. 

Sensory-related issues can impose a difficulty where the person or your kid is unable to determine the movements or level of strength to be used for all kinds of tasks. For example: dropping objects in the process of shaking, ripping a page when your kid meant to just turn it or giving over-enthusiastic hugs.

  1. ii) Your kid may seem awkward and clumsy.

Now there are kids with SPD who might just feel difficult to run or even climb up and down the stairs. This happens because they are confused about how their body is oriented, which results in them moving slowly or avoiding activating that involves too much leg-work. 

iii) Being in constant motion, bumping into things or seeming out of control.

As we mentioned earlier, the brain requires sensory feedback for every sensory organ to function efficiently. When your kid does not acquire enough feedback from their sensory system, they may try different movements or exaggerate their movements, such as jumping up and down and knocking into the wall, etc., to get the information they need from their surroundings. 

  1. iv) They may not like to do the things that other kids of their age like. 

Riding a bike, dressing up, riding a swing, among other challenging activities, are probably the activities your kid with SPD wouldn’t want to do. The reason is that they are not getting the information they need to feel secure, or the difficulty to grasp sensory input makes it hard for them to understand how to balance. 

Sensory processing affect on Australian kids

Strategies To Overcome Sensory Processing

Since we mentioned earlier that sensory processing is common among Autistic people, you must know that sensory processing problems aren’t a diagnosis on their own. These issues often coexist with ADHD and autism. 

While a few symptoms and signs of these conditions(autism and ADHD) may look similar to the sensory processing signs, kids with sensory processing issues aren’t necessarily diagnosed with autism or ADHD.  

Keeping this in mind, it is also crucial that parents, teachers, and others in close proximity of kids or individuals with sensory processing issues should adhere to the following points to support and help them, 

  • Give them a heads up if there is a change in their routine. 
  • Include daily sensory activities to improve their touch sensitivity. A small chore like helping place the spoons can also bring a good change. 
  • If your kid is a fussy eater, help them try new dishes even if they only lick or smell it (before rejecting it). 
  • Play games or do activities to expand their skill. 
  • Allow your child to use an object (such as inflatable cushions) when fidgeting so that they can improve their focus and concentration via the object. 

It is important for society to understand the struggle of a person with sensory processing issues to assist them in leading a normal life like us. It is not always easy to figure out what they are feeling, but people with SPD often feel anxious because they are unable to control every aspect and situation of their daily lives. 

While some people can both be oversensitive and under-sensitive in sensory processing, anxiety is usually observed among hypersensitive people. 

Think about it. Suddenly there is a lot of information in front of you that is too much to process by your brain. How will you react? 

Time To Bring The Change 

The Tomatis® Method uses the ‘sensory gate’ (ear) to reach the brain in order to create change. This significant change generally improves focus, develops communication & socialisation, boosts confidence, enhances learning skills, reduces anxiety while promoting a better quality of life. 

While there is no medication or cure for sensory processing issues, you can approach professional help using our technology that can help your kid and loved ones comprehend strategies to cope with sensory challenges. 

For more information, reach out to us at 0291 990 240

Let us know your point of view or experience with sensory processing issues in the comment section below. 

How sensory processing affect motor skills on Australian kids

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