The trouble with Sensory Processing Disorder is that it seems to be quite a new term here in the UK. Unless things have changed, then there isn’t actually a diagnosis for it either. What is happening though is that the new DSM-V (which is used as a sort of checklist to diagnose) is that sensory issues are being added to the criteria for those on the Autistic Spectrum (as of course Asperger’s Syndrome no longer exists).
First of all I am no expert on Sensory Processing Disorder. In fact the term was never mentioned when I took my Bsc (Hons) Psychology degree over a decade ago. What I am is a mother who is passionate at understanding her child(ren) and finding the best ways I can support them. My son (The Sensory Seeker) is now 6 years old (this was published in May 2015) and through the right support has come on in leaps and bounds.
What Support is there for Sensory Processing Disorder in the UK?
Education Health Care Plan
First of all I saw the Health Visitor when The Sensory Seeker was approximately 2 and half years old. He then performed a test that showed our son had a Global Developmental Delay and explained that I could request a Statement of Special Educational needs myself (this has now changed to an EHCP – Education, Health and Care Plan). The Sensory Seeker was awarded full time one to one support on the basis of his needs. He did not have any sort of diagnosis in place at all. In fact we were really at the start of our assessment processes.
Financial Help for Sensory Processing Disorder UK
I applied for Disability Living Allowance. He was awarded within 3 weeks of sending off the paperwork. Again he had not received any diagnosis and he did not have his Statement in place. I did send in supporting documentation and explained what his difficulties were and how it meant that he was at a disadvantage compared to his peers. You can find out more about Financial Help here.
Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder
We actually believed The Sensory Seeker to be on the Autistic Spectrum so went to see a Paediatrician. It was then that we first heard of Sensory Processing Disorder. The Sensory Seeker had just met her for the first time and we had to try to stop him from touching everything in sight (including rubbing his hands on the Paediatrician’s shiny tights!). We were then recommended some books to read which were incredibly helpful. One I definitely would say is a must read is The Out of Sync Child. Although there is no official diagnosis, the Peadiatrician did write on correspondence that he has Sensory Processing Disorder.
Read more about Understanding The Sensory Seeker
lick each of the below to find out more about each sense:
The Auditory Sense (Hearing),
The Visual Sense (vision/seeing),
Proprioception (Sense of body position, from information received through the muscles, and joints – force, speed and control).
Vestibular Sense – Movement and Balance/Gravity
Interoceptive (covering temperature)
We were then sent to Sensory Processing Disorder parent workshops where we were explained Sensory Processing Disorder in more detail, including day-to-day difficulties such as teeth brushing, hair washing, eating, wearing clothes, etc – and ways that we could help identify our individual children’s needs and help them. There were several occupational therapists available and they also had some tools (squeezy toys, weighted blankets, etc) that we could look at and consider if they may help. We were also sent e-mails on this information and had the opportunity to ask questions.
Support in Education
Staff at his playgroup said that they had no concerns at all with him. This was hard because he had so many obvious needs that I didn’t even feel the need to write a list! This was coupled with some issues around the times of his sessions and so we moved him to a new playgroup.
The new playgroup were phenomenal and really helped – including all they could to not only support him whilst he was there, but in securing his Statement of Educational needs.
Initially he was going to go to the same school as his brothers, the one attached to his playgroup. But the Head teacher at the school made comments about him lashing out (when he hadn’t) and that they thought it best he went to a special school. Among other things . At this point I got really low and needed support – all they said was how I wasn’t coping. This is when we removed our children who were currently at this school to another one.
We were really lucky this happened though because the mainstream infant school where The Sensory Seeker went was a fantastic source of support. I think we were very lucky because his Statement did not cover the additional help he needed and received at that time ( his Statement is for 17 1/2 hrs a week). He was still delayed but was making an excellent job of progressing.
Unfortunately the transition to a different school for his junior years wasn’t as productive. They ignored my opinions and told us he was doing well. He was home educated only because his brother wanted to be – and that’s when we discovered the damage that this school had done.
They, and us, have also had support from the Teaching Advisory Service and Educational Psychologists.
Speech and Language
Speech and Language Therapy helped him a great deal – but I think it depends again on the therapist. I personally wasn’t happy with the first one – not because she wasn’t helping him move forward in speech and language but that she would not listen to me about his additional needs.
Last but no means least, is the internet. There are several webpages (such as this one) & Facebook groups. And not forgetting that this has also been how we have found out about the many Relaxed Performances that have meant that The Sensory Seeker, and others like him, can enjoy shows that may have otherwise been too much.
If you think your child has Sensory Processing Disorder << read more there.
There are many topics regarding Sensory Processing Disorder on this blog just use the search bar. If you cannot find something then drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org), catch me on Social Media (@Pinkoddy), or leave a comment on one of the pages or posts.