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Sensory Processing Disorder classroom strategies : Intervention for Improved School Participation

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Child sitting post sensory processing disorders classroom strategies

This case study delves into the diagnostic and intervention procedure for a four-year-old child exhibiting behavioral issues, attributed primarily to tactile overresponsiveness. The child's school identified obstacles such as remaining seated for prolonged periods, resistance to close physical contact with classmates during group activities, and instances of aggressive behaviors including pushing, hair-pulling, and biting. Moreover, the morning arrivals at school became a significant issue, with the child running wildly in the hallways and showing aggression towards classmates. In-depth assessments, which included functional analysis, sensory profiling, and behavioral checklists, identified the child's struggle with sensory processing disorder and tactile overresponsiveness as the root cause behind these behavioral issues.


Therapeutic Approach and Progress: Occupational Therapy and Sensory Strategies


In observing the child's behavior, the child demonstrated calm demeanor during play sessions with the therapist. However, upon receiving commands, the child would react with tantrums, screaming, and hair-pulling. The child favored hugs from the therapist as positive reinforcement and displayed aggression when other children attempted to interact through play. The child's sensory processing disorder caused them to perceive light and unpredictable touch as painful, which resulted in aggressive behaviors to maintain distance. Conversely, the child could tolerate hugs and rough play, which provided predictable input and deep pressure. The therapeutic blueprint incorporated both Occupational Therapy (OT) and Behavior Therapy (BT) sessions, conducted five days a week. The initial focus, over the first 10 sessions, was to enhance the child's ability to sit still and maintain attention for at least five minutes. Given the child's sensory processing disorder, the interventions employed various sensory strategies for the classroom to desensitize the child. The subsequent 10 to 30 sessions incorporated sensory diet activities and behavior modification techniques. After three months of intensive therapy, significant improvements were evident. The child showed positive behavioral changes and improved tolerance for sensory stimuli. The therapy continues, with each session tailored to the child's specific needs. Feedback from the school suggests improved tolerance for closeness with peers and an extended sitting tolerance of up to 10 minutes.


Conclusion: How Occupational Therapy Helps with Sensory Processing Disorder


This case study highlights the successful multidisciplinary intervention for a child experiencing behavioral issues associated with tactile overresponsiveness. Through a combination of Occupational Therapy and Behavior Therapy, the child's sensory processing challenges were addressed, leading to improvements in school participation. The implementation of sensory strategies and behavior modification techniques resulted in increased sitting tolerance and decreased aggressive behaviors. The child's ability to tolerate peer proximity improved, allowing for more successful social interactions. The collaboration between therapists and the school played a crucial role in providing tailored support to meet the child's sensory and behavioral needs. Continued therapy sessions aim to further enhance the child's sensory processing abilities and overall participation in school activities, fostering their continued growth and development.


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