This weekend I had the distinct privilege of attending the 15th annual international symposium on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). It was held in my hometown of Sacramento, CA, and I was honored to be in the presence of some of the greatest leaders in the field of SPD research and intervention.
In a nutshell, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) occurs when the brain misinterprets sensory information (like touch, sound, smell, movement) and either over-responds, under-responds, or excessively craves it to the extent that it interferes with a person’s ability to function in his or her daily life. These difficulties with sensory processing also frequently contribute to motor-based problems that end up delaying the development of age-appropriate fine motor skills (small muscle groups: hands/fingers) and gross motor skills (large muscle groups: legs, shoulders, trunk).
The most well-known speaker at this weekend’s conference was Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, an amazing woman who has devoted her life to helping children with issues related to sensory processing. She is the author of Sensational Kids: Hope and help for children with sensory processing disorder and No Longer A SECRET: Unique common sense strategies for children with sensory or motor challenges, and she has co-authored many other books and prestigious research articles on the topic of SPD. Dr. Miller is also the leader of the STAR (Sensory Therapy and Research) Center in Denver, Colorado, which is a unique place for children and their families to engage in intensive sensory-based treatment and education in order to help them more successfully participate in daily activities (such as self-care, eating, playing, and participating socially) and increase their quality of life.
As anticipated, this conference built upon my current knowledge about and experience with sensory processing disorder. Ten lectures over the course of two eight-hour days? Yeah, I learned A LOT!
And I bet you’d like to know some of what I learned?
Well, you’re in luck.
This conference, of course, has reinvigorated my passion for everything sensory, and over the course of the next several weeks, I will be sharing some juicy tidbits that I hope you will find helpful for yourself, your own children, or other children you work with. While I won’t be able to write blog posts about every single thing I learned, I will be sharing many helpful sound bytes throughout the weeks via Twitter and Facebook. So make sure you’re following me on Twitter (@mamaotblog) and you’ve become a fan of MamaOT on Facebook (http://facebook.com/mamaotblog) so you don’t miss out on some really great info.
Topics I look forward to sharing with you are (in no particular order):
• Basics of sensory processing and SPD
• “Sensory Diet” vs. “Sensory Lifestyle”
• SPD and Autism
• What happens in the brains of kids with SPD as it relates to sensory processing, why this causes them to behave the way they do, and what we can do about it
• Sensory-inclusive playgrounds for kids with SPD and autism
• Emotional regulation as it relates to sensory processing
• “Picky eating” and sensory sensitivity in kids with SPD
I hope you’re as excited as I am. And, hey, if you’re not interested in reading about SPD stuff, don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging about other topics over the next several weeks as well. I just wanted to give you a heads up so could prepare yourself (because that’s what we pediatric OTs do, right?).
Looking forward to sharing with you!