How I got started in Sensory Regulation

I wanted to start with a story of how I started being really interested in Sensory regulation firstly on a professional level and secondly on a personal level.

It all started when I started working as an Occupational Therapist at Summit School in Ville Saint-Laurent, Quebec.   It is a school for students from 4-21 years old with primarily intellectual disabilities. It became quickly apparent that most of the students there had trouble regulating their senses.  They would often become overly upset when lights were too bright, noises were too loud and when they had to sit still for too long. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly to understand each child’s sensory profile and explain in an easy to understand way to the teachers, attendants and support staff working with these kids how important it was for them to be regulated before we expected them to learn.  It was here that my passion to explain sensory regulation was formed. My colleagues and I would develop mini trainings informing those working with the children how best to help and understand each child’s sensory needs. We now know that 50-70% of the disabled population experience sensory regulation difficulties (add reference).

Fast forward to 2005 when the birth of my first child came slightly pre-term.  I had no idea what I was in for, a baby who cried 20 out of 24 hours per day. If I wasn’t holding him tight and bouncing him, he cried.  He could not be put down, he could not be in a swing nor a stroller. He needed deep pressure and linear bouncing to calm and regulate his system.   I wore him every waking hour in a baby wrap held tightly to my chest. There he was happy.

It was at this point that when my curiosity began to grow of how a typically developing child could be experiencing sensory regulation difficulties.  

I now know that up to 15% of the typical population also experiences sensory regulation difficulties (add reference).  Fast forward to 2007 when the birth of my second child came along, she too was born 3 weeks early, but she thankfully could be put down…as long as it was in a swing!  She would only sleep in her swing. We carried that swing everywhere, we had extra batteries handy all the time. Once again in 2009 the birth of my third and last child arrived.  This time, I was prepared, the sling and swing were ready. I was now convinced that I was not “spoiling” my child by holding them too much. In fact, holding them is what calmed them!  

Now I have spent the last 10 years being curious of how older children, adults and elders experience sensory regulation difficulties in the typical population.  As I began giving longer talks on sensory regulation and behaviour and visiting many different health units while doing so, I realized clearly that clients with mental health difficulties and elders in old age homes were experiencing similar sensory regulation difficulties as my own children had.  In viewing the research being watched and followed by the, I was able to support my observations by research.

It is with passion and pride that I bring to you the Behaviour in the Classroom Workshop so that I can continue to sensitize and give simple tools to put in place to help all those with sensory regulation difficulties.  The hope is to make our schools, daycares, group homes and offices more sensory friendly.

See pdf link attached.