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What is my Child’s Sensory Profile?

Written by Jennifer Garden. Posted in Blog

overtired toddler

Your child’s sensory profile is a unique description of how your child processes the sensory information from his/her environment. Five sensory areas that OTs often evaluates include the following:

  • Tactile/touch
  • Auditory/hearing
  • Visual/seeing
  • Vestibular/balance& movement
  • Oral/sensations of taste, texture and temperature in the mouth

How is this information used?

Occupational Therapists often use this information to understand how the child is interpreting the world around them. Sometimes, if the child is under- or over-responding to information from these areas, it can impact their ability to engage in daily occupations, such as sleeping.

By understanding both the patterns of response (either over-responding or under-responding) and the sensory areas that are affected, we can help parents design activities and modify environments to help their child cope better with the world around them and more successfully engage in their daily tasks.

overstimulated baby

A story to illustrate one part of  a sensory profile:

 (Name and context are fictitious and only used to illustrate these points – they are not related to an actual client/child.)

Dylan is a bright and alert 8 month old boy. He loves being out and about, and looking at the world around him during his daily stroller walks. He rarely falls asleep in the stroller. He loves looking at faces and his big brother dancing around him. If the TV is on in the house, he is drawn to the fast-paced images on the screen. He sometimes gets fussy in a busy environment where there is a lot going on. His OT assessment indicated that he over-responds in the area of visual processing. Dylan’s OT talked to his parents about how his busy visual environment can alert his nervous system and make him feel irritable. It was recommended that his environments be dampened later in the day to help him wind down and that stroller walks be taken after he has woken up rather than used as a strategy to calm him prior to sleep time. The OT was also able to recommend specific calming strategies and some environmental modifications to his sleep zone to help him calm down rather than ramp up due to visual stimulation.

What does this mean?

We know that parents know their children best. That’s for certain. Applying this knowledge to their daily routines and adapting activities and modifying environments can help your child to cope better during the day and be more able to successfully engage in their daily play and self care (sleeping/eating) tasks.

Do you need more ideas or recommendations to help your child?

An Occupational Therapist can help. Contact us to discuss your child’s sensory profile and how it may be affecting their ability to cope with the day to day activities in their life including playing, eating, and sleeping.