As adults, we have learned how to create lives within which we can manage our pet peeves, have access to our preferences, and generally avoid our dislikes, but for kids who rely upon sensory input from the environment in order to navigate within it, this can be a lot more difficult and complicated by bullying and teasing. And the more sensitive a child is to the stimuli in their environment, the more difficult it will be for them to adjust.
As an occupational therapist, Lindsey Biel has made it her life’s work to help children, adolescents, and young adults who fall anywhere on what she refers to as the sensory sensitivity continuum, characterized by mild sensitivities, pet peeves, and preferences on one end, and severe, often disabling sensory sensitivities on the other end. She explains that while sensory sensitivities are often conflated with autism, having the former does not necessarily indicate the latter. She also discusses the types of sensitivities experienced by many of her patients, and how she goes about addressing them. While there has been no definitive cause of sensory sensitivity identified, Biel gets a bit into the science behind the potential causes, which involve white matter in the brain and differences in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Biel brings over 20 years’ worth of experience to the conversation, touching on a range of intriguing topics. Visit sensorysmarts.com for a downloadable sensory checklist, information on strategies for sensory difficulties, webcasts, and magazine articles, and check out Amazon or your local bookstore for her books, Raising a Sensory Child and Sensory Processing Challenges: Effective Clinical Work with Kids & Teens.