Within Sensory Processing Disorder there are subcategories, with one of these being Sensory Modulation Disorder. This subcategory can be further divided into three additional categories: Sensory Over-Responsivity, Sensory Under-Responsivity, and Sensory Craving. Characteristics of and supports for Sensory Over-Responsivity were discussed in a previous blog post. Today’s post will address one of the more overlooked sensory disorders, Sensory Under-Responsivity (SUR).
As the name suggests, a child with SUR is less aware of or sensitive to inputs from one or more of his senses than other children. Because a child with SUR does not detect some sensory inputs, he may appear to be self-absorbed, withdrawn, or uninterested. Additionally, the child may have difficulty with personal space, appear uncoordinated and clumsy, or be slow to react and respond. Further, a child with SUR may have a high tolerance for pain or not notice when he, for example, falls down and cuts himself, touches a hot stove, or runs into another child.
Some suggestions offered by Kristi A. Jordan, OTR/L, to assist a child with SUR include:
-Using fidgets throughout day
-Providing oral input and strong flavors (gum, mint/cinnamon/sour flavors, flavored water, crunchy or chewy snacks)*
-Providing movement breaks, such as bouncing and swinging throughout the day
-Increasing lighting in the morning to help wake up
-Doing movement-based activities in the morning before attempting seated work
-Including bright colors and contrasting colors in activities
-Using adapted seating to increase arousal, such as a therapy ball or adapted stool
-Including functional heavy work (carrying, pushing, and pulling) activities into work and play
Using these techniques in a classroom can provide needed support for a child with SUR.
*Before providing gum or food, check with the child’s family to confirm he does not have an allergy or sensitivity to the item(s).
Jordan, Kristi (n.d) Sensory Strategies for the Classroom: Sensory Under-Responders. Retrieved from www.iidc.indiana.edu.