How to Treat Sensory Processing Disorder

Treatment for sensory processing disorder typically includes occupational therapy, introduction of a sensory diet, and sensory integration challenges that retrain the brain to respond differently to stimulation from the senses.

A boy works with an occupational therapist to manage symptoms of sensory processing disorder

Each person with sensory processing disorder (SPD) has unique needs and sensory difficulties. The first step on the road to treatment is to determine which senses are over- or under-sensitive. Then, working with a trained therapist, children and adults can develop strategies to cope. Make sure to find a therapist with training in sensory integration. Some doctors don’t recognize it as a condition, and may poo-poo your or your child’s struggles.

Treating SPD with Therapy

SPD treatment often means working with an occupational therapist on activities that help retrain the senses. Many therapists use a sensory integration (OT-SI) approach that begins in a controlled, stimulating environment, and focuses on making SPD easier to manage in day-to-day life. OT-SI uses fun, stimulating activities to challenge patients’ senses without overwhelming them or linking stimulation to feelings of failure. Over time, the goal is to extend these learned, appropriate responses outside of the clinic to home, school, and life.

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