Practical Access Podcast

S3 E8: Understanding Sensory Needs with Kiera Anderson

October 26, 2020 Photo by Julie Molliver on Unsplash
Practical Access Podcast
S3 E8: Understanding Sensory Needs with Kiera Anderson
Chapters
Practical Access Podcast
S3 E8: Understanding Sensory Needs with Kiera Anderson
Oct 26, 2020
Photo by Julie Molliver on Unsplash

In today’s episode, Drs. Lisa Dieker and Rebecca Hines talk with Ph. D student, Kiera Anderson, as she gives an overview and practical strategies for understanding a child's sensory needs. Tune in as she shares her tips on how to address sensory needs for optimal arousal levels of learning.

Show Notes Transcript

In today’s episode, Drs. Lisa Dieker and Rebecca Hines talk with Ph. D student, Kiera Anderson, as she gives an overview and practical strategies for understanding a child's sensory needs. Tune in as she shares her tips on how to address sensory needs for optimal arousal levels of learning.

Rebecca Hines:

Welcome to practical access. I'm Lisa Dieker. And I'm Rebecca Hines. And, Lisa, I'm really excited to hear from our guests today, Kiera Anderson is an occupational therapist, and she has 20 years experience, but also some really interesting and in depth tips to share with us today that I think we wouldn't have heard in previous podcasts.

Lisa Dieker:

Yeah, so I know welcome, Kiera. We're so excited. You're with us. And you know, we're really interested in your, you kind of reached out to us and said, You know, I've got some thoughts for the young kids sitting in front of the camera saying, I'm not interested, I'm not engaged, and maybe that kid has some sensory needs or other aspects. So I'm gonna just kick it off with my first

Kiera Anderson:

Yes. Well, thank you. Thank you, Becky, and Lisa, for having me here. today. We're living in this crazy world, full of community stress. Children are hybrid, they're in person, they're virtual, they're back and forth in this land of education. And parents and teachers are both putting their hands up in the air saying, Oh, no, help me. We need learning, we need attention. These

Lisa Dieker:

Yeah, so so what do you mean by deep pressure? So I hug them a bunch, I you know, squeeze in between two pillows. Again, I'm only laughing because you know, I can think of a lot of things that might make me feel better. Like I would love to have a masseuse. Come in. But what are you talking about? What it kind of define that for our listeners? What does it mean to give some deep

Kiera Anderson:

Yeah, absolutely. So what I want to talk about first is I'd like to provide you with a little bit of an overview of sensory processing. So teachers and parents alike, both understand this a little bit more. And then we'll go into different activities that we look like when somebody is over alert, or under alert, and we need to get them to that just right state for learning. So to

Rebecca Hines:

So Kiera let me let me ask you this. So sometimes when we hear the word sensory inputs and outputs, we almost always I think we're conditioned to think about kids on the autism spectrum. But are you talking now more about things that we can think about and do with all kids?

Kiera Anderson:

Absolutely. Thank you for asking that that key. So according to research, about 40 to 80% of children with developmental disabilities have some type of sensory processing dysfunction. Research also tells us that about 10 to 12% of individuals in the general population without any diagnosed disability, also are identified with sensory processing difficulties. The interesting thing You can't concentrate?

Rebecca Hines:

Yeah, so so this is something Then that's pretty, pretty universal, I would guess. And I'm sure that that these kind of issues. Again, they're not just they're not just things that parents are experiencing at home right now because they have their kids there all day. But they're things that for teachers to consider, too. So what's something specific to like a classroom if I know

Kiera Anderson:

well, an easy way to look at it from a teacher or parent perspective. If we look at a teacher perspective, in the classroom, we look at things in terms of over arousal, or under arousal. So if we look at over arousal in the classroom, what you're going to see with children is distractibility, rushing, poor organization, difficulty following directions, excessive movement, in the chair and back to work.

Lisa Dieker:

So So I have a question. And one of the comments that I make when I'm working with teachers is always, you know, what you're looking for is that Goldilocks principle, you know, you don't want your porridge too hot. You don't want it too cold. But here's the problem. I got boiling porridge, I got freezing porridge. And I got just right porridge. And they're all either sitting in my

Kiera Anderson:

As, as a parent, or as a teacher with a classroom full of kids on different different points of the sensory spectrum, shall we call it, we can have little areas broken up. So if you were a parent home with three kids, you might have a calming area for one of your children. And that children maybe climbs into a little play tents where things are a little bit darker, and they can

Lisa Dieker:

on watch the hopscotch but I'm going to jump in the blanket and then leave the third kid alone. I mean, again, that's a great example Kiera because I do think families kind of feel like they're in that you know, everybody needs something different. And I think that same would ring true for teachers would you agree?

Kiera Anderson:

Absolutely completely runs through for treat teachers and as a occupational therapist when I did work in the public schools Goal setting, a lot of times we would provide in services or go into classrooms, and work with teachers on their classroom design, so that they could have these options available for children. There's a calming area, you know, there's an area where children can

Lisa Dieker:

So I'm going to I'm going to throw my last question. And I'll throw it back to Becky to kind of close this out. But so one of the things I think we're going to hear from teachers from your great example of tense and all that, but right now at this moment, and I know this podcast will go beyond this moment, but we are not only in social distancing, but in general hygiene. So let's

Kiera Anderson:

Absolutely. That is such a good question. Thank you for bringing that up. Lisa. I'm so tense not appropriate right now, anything where children aren't socially distance not appropriate right now, what can be done that's appropriate now, pulling a bag of books across the classroom to get heavy input, asking parents to provide if the children isn't in school, child asking parents to

Rebecca Hines:

And Kiera, my my final question, we've talked and you've given us some great strategies that that people can use. I know with kids of all ages, but the way that they're being described are a little younger. So let's think about some older kids for a minute. And you know, and how we might bring them into the process of self advocating to meet those kind of needs for themselves. What

Kiera Anderson:

You are correct. Great question, Becky. So self advocating is so important because that's when the needs really get met. One of the techniques that's used for both younger and older kids is identifying is your engine too fast, too slow or just right. And that's taken from something known as the alert program. And when children are taught this young, it tends to stick there and

Lisa Dieker:

Any last things you want to share with us? Before we wrap up today, I just don't want to make sure we don't miss anything that you kind of think folks just need as as kind of your closing thoughts.

Kiera Anderson:

No closing thoughts, I just do want to make sure that I mentioned, a lot of times we see negative behaviors as a result of out of whack arousal levels. So those negative behaviors can be anything such as hitting or yelling, or throwing things or behaviors that we do not, you know, wish to see in children and are not appropriate. These behavior levels can also be moderated through

Lisa Dieker:

And I love it, because all I can think about here is, you know, I want to go back to my son's school when he was in third grade and say it was your slide in second grade actually, because he got in trouble all the time for throwing rocks down the metal slide because it made the best sound. Yeah, definitely knew it was sensory input need but but I laugh because they kept saying and he's

Kiera Anderson:

Thanks. Thank you for having me.