What does sensory diet have to do with attention deficit disorder and autism? - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Ahwatukee Medical

What does sensory diet have to do with attention deficit disorder and autism?

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Teresa Welsh

Posted: Monday, October 3, 2011 9:29 am | Updated: 3:25 pm, Wed Jul 25, 2012.

Many children today are being diagnosis with attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger's and autism. We sometimes focus on the behavior, but never really understand what causes the behavior.

Some children have sensory integration disorder and, depending on the severity, it can hinder your child's success in a class. Schools are aware of this problem but, due to limited resources, will help only a few students. Most of this will fall on the parents in getting the appropriate occupational therapy to help with their child's sensory issues.

What on earth is a "sensory diet?" No, this is not a diet of only certain foods or certain calories. A sensory diet is a term used to describe sensory activities that are used to treat kids with sensory integration disorder.

In ADD and ADHD, hyperactivity and impulsiveness is related to sensory needs a child may be craving. Sensory input and medication can help with the attention span or hyperactivity in your child.

In a child with ADD or ADHD, hyperactivity and impulsiveness is the need to get some of the energy out before they can sit down and focus.

Some of the things you can do at home or school to make sure they get some physical activity are sports, a great way to tire them out.

Joint compression, playing tag, jumping on a trampoline, push-ups, sit-ups and working with an exercise ball all great items to work with.

When it's time for bed and you want to calm them down then I would give them a massage, starting with their feet and working your way up and applying lotion, which is a very soothing for them.

Oral stimulation is another sensory need that a child has and you will see them bite on toys, cloths, and anything they can to get the oral input that they need.

There are useful items that you can buy online, like wristbands and chewy pencil tops, to give them the input they need at school so kids won't tease them.

• Teresa Welsh is the behavior coach to Independence Behavioral Coaching LLC, formed to help parents and teachers manage difficult behaviors in children. Reach her at (602) 531-0230 or twelsh@behavecoach.com.

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