by: Michelle Beck, MOTR

Self-regulation and sensory processing are often linked. Self-regulation is the ability to remain alert and engaged while managing one’s behavior and emotions when faced with challenging tasks or situations. Sensory processing is the ability to experience sensation, such as touch, sound, taste, or smell, in a variety of settings and form appropriate responses for the event. When a child is unable to self-regulate across his or her sensation-filled environments, it can impact their ability to appropriately interact with others and learn.

For example, we would expect children in a classroom to sit still, pay attention to the teacher, keep their hands and bodies to themselves, tolerate typical school-related sights and sounds, and complete tasks within a given time frame. A child with self-regulation and sensory processing deficits would likely struggle to meet these expectations.

Many of the children we see in our practice have difficulties with sensory processing and self-regulation, which can impact their ability to functionally participate with others at home, in school, in the community, and in a clinic setting- including a speech therapy session. This is why we suggest many of our clients attend occupational therapy before their speech therapy session if deemed appropriate by an occupational therapist.

In our occupational therapy sessions, we provide targeted exercises, sensory experiences, and activities that meet each child’s individual sensory needs. This enables them to be in an engaged, regulated state as they transition into the important work of speech and language development.

In some cases, occupational therapy will begin weeks or months before initiating speech therapy to address any sensory processing deficits that may be present. Sensory diets for the home can also be set up as a preventative measure.

The goal for both therapists is a happy and successful child, along with a supported and educated family.

Contact us here or call our New York office at 212-712-2014 or our New Jersey office at 908-273-5537 if you have questions about what we discussed in this blog or would like to schedule a consultation with our therapists. As always, we’re here to help!