Mental Health Related: Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory integration is how the central nervous system receives messages from the senses. The information gets used by an individual so he can process behavioral or motor response. Since there’s a lot of bombarded information from the five senses, the nervous system needs to organize it so that a person’s reaction matches the signaling message.

Pioneering psychologist, occupational therapist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D. likened this dysfunction to a “neurological traffic jam that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.”

Therefore, when there is sensory processing dysfunction, neural signals tend to tangle and become unorganized. The term sensory processing disorder or SPD is not currently recognized as mental health or medical condition that stands on its own. That’s the reason why people won’t find it listed on any diagnostic manuals.

“The disorder, however, isn’t officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Instead of its own disorder, many doctors and experts believe sensory issues are a component of another condition or disorder.” Karen Richardson Gill, MD, FAAP, explains.

So, what is it? What are the damages it can do to a person? How can we treat it?

All About The Condition

When an individual experiences a sensory processing disorder, he will not be able to respond to his senses immediately. There is a tendency that the individual can get confused about what he’s hearing, tasting, seeing, touching, and smelling. Everything becomes extremely overwhelming. In some case of events, the condition may only affect one sense. But it can also harm many senses as well. And every person with the disorder may react and behave differently depending on their sensory dysfunction. There is a collection of different intensity and responses to stimuli. With that, some individuals may or may not have an overreaction to stimuli. Overreaction includes throwing a tantrum, vomiting, screaming, and an outburst. And with those people with under-reaction, they will barely respond or feel physical touch or may not cover their ears when there’s a loud noise around. The condition supports both over and under responses. Therefore, not every individual is going to act the same.

The condition is way too complicated than most people think. That’s perhaps the reason why it mainly gets attributed to ASD or autism spectrum disorder. With that, many professionals believe that this information needs to change and should be included in diagnostic manuals as a stand-alone condition. Though in general, a lot of its symptoms are relatable to various phobias, misophonia, ADHD, schizophrenia, PTSD, and even borderline personality disorder. With that, it is essential to note that the condition is not something that all professional health experts can easily understand. Therefore, it’s best to find someone who knows and specializes in sensory issues along with its types.

The Types Of Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Sensory Discrimination Disorder – It is the type of sensory processing disorder that contains difficulty in accurately identifying qualities of stimuli. Individuals with this state may use little or too much force when doing something. Most of the time, they break something without realizing that they exerted too much strength. Some may also struggle in picking items, particularly in a cluttered area. Some may even move too slow or too fast in doing certain activities.
  • Sensory Modulation Disorder – It is characterized by an individual’s struggle to regulate the intensity of response to sensory stimuli. Meaning, a person with this condition tends to hate textures in some food; they sometimes hate brushing their teeth and find it uninteresting to manage their hair. Note that the things they often hate are not at all upsetting to most people. Usually, only these individuals view, smell, feel, and see common things differently.
  • Postural Ocular Disorder – It is a state where a person struggles to manage visual and bodily movements. Therefore, an individual has a hard time balancing their body, tracking items in their eye line, and strive to control the amount of strength needed in completing a specific task. There are also cases that a person may not identify which of his hands are dominant and which is not.
  • Dyspraxia – It’s a sensory processing dysfunction that makes a person struggle with planning, scheduling, and executing things in sequence. It entirely makes everything complicated and hard to do daily. It gets difficult to move to a specific task to another due to less excellent motor coordination.

As for the cause of SPD, people and experts don’t know. Therefore, extensive research and study must be done to understand the condition thoroughly.

“Symptoms are apparent in only about ten percent of the population and two percent may show severe symptoms. There is no cure for dyspraxia but an early diagnosis and therapy means greater chances of improvement,” Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD, reveals.

Fortunately, there is a recommended treatment available to manage the disorder. There’s occupational therapy where it encourages rehabilitation through the focus of an individual’s performance of activities. With that, it creates a better and meaningful engagement that helps sustain a person’s daily life.

How To Teach Your Child To Read

When you enroll your child to various forms of therapy online to ensure that they are ready for school, you should also start teaching them how to read. It’s not about their age, you see. Everything is about the developmental process of your son or daughter.

For instance, do they get enough physical activities every day? Can they sit still in a chair, hold a pencil without concentrated effort, or track the words on the board and copy them onto paper? Is your child able to communicate well?

Considering you are still unaware of it, you should know that learning how to read through the computer is entirely out of the question.

Importance Of Reading Books

You see, if you don’t get the reading thing right, and consequently raise a child who dislikes the activity, many doors will shut for him. As evidence shows, homeschooling is no guarantee you will get it right. I talk to homeschooling parents whose children don’t enjoying reading because of simple mistakes that, had they known otherwise, would have been easy to avoid. In simple words, that is a tragedy.

Assuming your child is developmentally ready, it’s time to train them with real books. Though you may find them adding to the clutter in your home at first, it is more prudent to spend money on quality hardback classic novels that your kids can take pride in owning than fancy phonics programs. The latter, you see, might be more confusing than useful.

Where To Start?

1. Lay Out The Basics

To begin, you must teach your child the alphabet and letter sounds.

“The approach that proved most effective was based on phonics-teaching children how to sound words out, letter by letter, rather than encouraging students to recognize words as single chunks,” wrote John McWhorter, PhD.

Use the alphabet song to memorize the alphabet, for instance. You may also get flashcards to help them learn the letters out of sequence afterward. Furthermore, it may pay off to stick alphabet magnets on the refrigerator so that the youngsters can get reminded of them often.

Now that they know what every letter is supposed to sound, you can separate the vowels and teach the short vowel sounds. The child should understand these well enough to immediately recognize the difference, for example, between a short “e” and a short “a.” Work with them until they do without overdoing it, to the point that the poor kid becomes frustrated. Consequently, you can allow them to practice as soon as they get the vowel sounds down.

2. Teach How To Put Letters Together

Once you sense that your kid is ready for more, you may teach them how to put consonant and vowel sounds together.

This step may test your patience greater than the first one because the task requests a lot of concentration. It is something that most young children do not have, considering they have a short attention span. If they are making mistakes with the vowels sounds, you can always go back and do a few practice drills instead of yelling and ruining the experience for them.

As a parent, it also matters to think that perhaps the slip-ups are not because of cognitive disabilities. In some cases, the problem may be exhaustion. That is especially true if they have been learning for more than a couple of hours. Hence, you ought to allow the child to go at their own pace.

According to Kathy Egawa, PhD, “expecting more from young children than is developmentally appropriate may just frustrate them, and turn them off to an interest in reading when it’s most important.”

Say, in the beginning, you may ask your kid to read two-letter syllables in half a page. After some time, they may be ready for two full pages. You will notice that the youngsters will ask you later if they can try more words, thus indicating that you hit another milestone.

“Listen to your child,” wrote Peter Gray, PhD. “Respond appropriately to your child’s questions, but don’t go overboard by telling your child more than he or she wants to know. If you do go overboard, your child will learn to stop asking you questions.”

3. Jump To Three-Letter Words

One of the most effective ways to teach a child how to read three-letter words is to encourage them to identify the initial letter first. For instance, in case the word is “bat,” the first consonant is B. When you include the second letter, which is the vowel A, they can produce the word “ba”. Pronouncing it and adding the letter T, in the end, will allow them to read their first word easily.

Learning longer words will then be not too challenging for the children since they already know how to put syllables together.

Final Thoughts

Teaching a kid how to read is not daunting, is it? You do not need to possess an Education degree to help your child start reading. You merely have to be a mother or a father who understands vowels and consonants quite well and wants their offspring to hold real books instead of gadgets.

Good luck!

Teaching Tips To Deal With Dyslexic Students

Most people think that family members are the only ones who find difficulty in addressing the problems of a child with dyslexia. However, class teachers also face a lot of confusion when it comes to dealing with students with such disorder.

There are various reasons why a student with dyslexia is underperforming in class. First, the disorder causes poor auditory short-term memory which hinders them to retain the concepts and input from the teacher. For example, they have difficulty remembering the sounds of the words they hear. Because of this, it is hard for them to match these words with their spelling.

Another problem these pupils are facing is low self-esteem. Since most of them have a difficult time catching up with their lessons, they find themselves lacking confidence when dealing with the world.

“I have too often encountered countless numbers of genuinely bright children who sincerely believed they were just plain stupid,” wrote Ania Siwek, PsyD. “Often this erroneous conclusion is drawn when children have no other way to explain their learning differences to themselves.”

Source: en.wikipedia.org

These problems that are faced by students with dyslexia are common, and teachers have a huge role to create a positive and encouraging environment. They can make it easier for them to learn faster and regain their self-value.

Listed below are some tips on how to deal with students with dyslexia.

Assistive Technologies

There are several new technologies and tools which teachers can use to assist them in handling their students. One example of this a colored keyboard. Keyboards which have features that contain larger letters and colored overlays help them type easily. There are even some that have multimedia hotkeys. These let them play, stop, pause, and rewind audio anytime they want. They are convenient since they often use text-to-speech software.

Another assistive technology which you can use is a line reader. A liner reader highlights and magnifies the texts it marks. It guides students with dyslexia to read and move through a worksheet or book with ease. It will also enable them to overcome their tendency of swimming with words. The result? Less distraction.

Blackboard Techniques

One reason why people with dyslexia have a hard time listening to their teacher is that they always get lost when their instructor starts to write on the blackboard. With that, the teachers should make sure to do the following to avoid this:

  • Make sure that the words have ample space between them. Doing this will let them read correctly and avoid mixing the words beside it.
  • Use different colored chalks per line or sentence if there is a bombardment of words on the board. If this is too tedious, the teacher can also underline every other line using chalk of assorted colors.
  • Do not rush the child in copying the information on the board. Leave the writing there as much as possible.

Marking And Scoring Strategies

Always take into account that students with dyslexia have a hard time catching up with the education standard of their classmates. Hence, it is essential to acknowledge the effort and time put by the child into his or her schooling works. Maybe teachers can have a different scoring approach when grading the outputs of their students with dyslexia.

Teachers and parents must reward effort, not just “the product”. “For the dyslexic, grades should be less important than progress,” says Michael Ryan, M.D.

Source: pxhere.com

Try also not to use red marks when marking and scoring their work. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing their papers covered with red ink. It will also lower their self-esteem in the process. To boost their confidence in their schooling, mark their work using a pencil and write positive comments on their work.

Vocabulary Support

To assist the children with their vocabulary capacity, here are some of the things a teacher can do:

  • Require a child to carry a small notebook which can serve as their dictionary. Their logs will include the details such as the word, page number where they found it in the dictionary, a short description of the meaning, the pronunciation, and a sentence which contains the words.
  • Teach the child with root words, prefixes, and suffixes to improve their comprehension and spelling.
  • Improve their vocabulary bank by forming associations. These associations can be through written sentences or verbal expressions. Make sure to relate it to their lives as well.

Oral Recitations And Computer-Written Output

There may be times that students with dyslexia miss passing their written output because they find it difficult to write their thoughts and they also consider physical handwriting as torture.

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The first thing which could be of help to them is to give them an opportunity to answer questions through oral recitations. People with dyslexia find it easier to express their thoughts and communicate their answers through speaking.

Another technique which you can do is to allow them to submit computer-written output. Most students with dyslexia use programs such as word processors to make their lives easier. It is also recommended to let them use applications such as the Spell Checker to correct their punctuations and grammar.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy in addressing the concerns of children with dyslexia. However, these five teachings tips should be a start for those teachers who are still confused on how to deal with their students with dyslexia.

“Know the student,” Joan Teach, PhD., recommended. “And then try a strategy and see if it works. And if that strategy doesn’t work, try something else. Keep trying different strategies, because each child’s configuration of strengths and weakness will be different.”

Hearing Impairment Links To Dementia

Staying mentally alert is vital in aging that’s why it is the top concern of most adults. In a medical survey, there are identified barriers that cause mental degradation and all of which are linked to untreated hearing loss. We know that hearing loss can cause depression, social isolation, and anxiety. And if left untreated, can also lead to severe mental illness.

Patients who experience a hearing impairment are much more likely to have dementia. Studies show that these two conditions occur together. However, some experts believe that it’s the other way around. The signs of dementia and hearing are common, but for some others, the direct link seems to be unclear.

Chin-Mei Liu, PhD and Charles Tzu-Chi Lee, PhD wrote that “Hearing loss includes peripheral hearing impairment and central auditory dysfunction; both are associated with accelerated cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, and incident dementia.”

Loss Of Important Relationship

Social isolation is the collective result of untreated hearing impairment. That’s because the process of hearing becomes challenging so many people avoid activities that require attentive interaction. The study shows that by the age of 65 years old, there are approximately one out of three people who suffer from isolation due to hearing loss.  In some unfortunate events, many may try lip reading or avoiding loud environment before eventually isolating themselves.

Decreased Cognitive Ability

Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, and Marilyn Albert, PhD, explained that “Hearing impairment may also constitute a “second hit” on the brain and thereby adversely affect the cognitive performance and increase the risk of dementia by adding to brain pathology resulting from other disorders (e.g., amyloid-beta accumulation, neurofibrillary tangles, and microvascular disease).”

People with hearing disability are using all their cognitive resources to comprehend in a conversation. As much as possible, these people want to use less brain power in the process because it’s too draining. If people use too much comprehension just by talking to someone, they eventually damage their mental function. That’s because there’s a required higher amount of effort to listen over an extensive period. With this, the exerted effort tries to steal resources from the brain’s capability to store memory and make decisions. A study concluded that the untreated hearing loss accelerates cognitive decline as well.

Triggering Depression

In most patients who have dementia, the associated hearing loss improves the behavioral, emotional and mental symptoms. These include anxiety, hallucination, aggression, depression, and quality of life. That’s because when people suffer from hearing impairment, they begin to think negatively. From there, the isolation they need hinders them to interact and communicate with other people. It gets overwhelming as they continue to struggle on their way to recovery without any available concluded resolution.

The Intervention

“A separate imaging study where brain changes were tracked in 126 people for up to 10 years found that those with hearing impairment had accelerated rates of brain atrophy, including in areas involved in memory. These studies suggest that it may be necessary to treat hearing loss before significant brain shrinkage occurs in order to mitigate dementia risk,” Betsy Mills, PhD, notes.

Treating hearing loss can help improve a person’s quality of life and allow him to become mentally sharp.  It reduces the risk of having mental degradation and cognitive decline. So if you or a family member noticed a relative who is not engaging in any conversation, always attempting to lip read, or struggling from hearing, it is essential to schedule a clinical test. The patient can undergo an audiogram to be able to get a clue of what type a hearing loss needs to be addressed. Only a hearing test can answer and treat the condition.

Always remember that the longer the problem goes untreated, the harder it is to correct. With that said, there’s a higher risk of the patient to develop dementia if the hearing loss gets unnoticed. So better learn the things about sensory problems associated with mental illness to help and save the lives of your loved ones.

How Sensory Activities Benefit Children With Disabilities

Everyone knows that our five senses – sight, touch, taste, and sound – play a vital function in the development of our brains. This is why sensory play is very important in repairing and strengthening our children’s minds and forming strong building blocks for learning in the years to come. Something that contributes to this type of development is speaking to a licensed professsional like those found here.

“Remember, we all engage in sensory seeking behavior (such as tapping a pencil or chewing a pen cap while concentrating) and sensory avoidance (I personally hate touching cold, mushy things like raw meat). It is when these needs or aversions interfere with our functioning and cause dysregulation that we have a disorder,” Allison Kawa, PsyD, a child psychologist in Los Angeles, shares.

Assisting A Beloved To Deal With Visual Impairment

 

The temperament of an individual who lives with visual impairment varies depending on how they lost their sense of sight. In case it’s a condition they were born with, coping with the situation won’t be that difficult since they grew up that way. However, if the loss of vision is a result of an accident or an ailment that took place when the person was older, it may be too big of a pill to swallow.

Helpful Gadgets for the Visually Impaired

 

Whenever I see a friend getting riled up over the most mundane things like missing a concert or chipping a fingernail, it annoys me. Some people live their lives with disabilities they may never recover from, yet you don’t hear them whine that much. Instead, these heroes make do with the talents they possess and hope for the best. This incredible courage they show, in truth, may have propelled scientists to invent gadgets that can be useful for them, especially for the visually impaired folks.

Knowing Sensory Processing Disorder

Nowadays, numerous parenting styles are employed by parents in order to provide their children with a balanced environment for self-growth and discipline; However, despite many studies on rearing and parenting. Any average parents would still encounter moments of doubts and anxiety about their parenting styles and if they are disciplining their children accordingly.