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Team Sports for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Team Sports for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Sensory processing disorder is a complex disorder that presents different obstacles for different patients. SPD is the brain's inability to process sensations efficiently. As such, sensations like hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, and smells can be overwhelming. While research around SPD is ongoing, there are measures that parents can take to help children with SPD process sensations. These measures can be invaluable when supporting children in activities that may trigger sensory overload like playing sports.

This article will discuss some of the issues that children with SPD may experience when taking part in team activities as well as helpful tips to help deal with the triggers that come along with these activities.

1. Sound

Sounds are an inherent part of team play. Whether it comes from cheering on the sidelines or activity on the field, children with SPD will be exposed to many different sounds while playing sports and these sounds may cause them to become overwhelmed. The bouncing of a basketball, the whistles from the referee, the shouting from the coach, are all possible triggers for a child with SPD. These overwhelming sensations can cause an emotional response that may cause a child with SPD to find the game too overwhelming to play. Earplugs are helpful tool that can deaden the overwhelming sounds involved in team play. If your child has SPD, speak to your doctor as well as the coach and referee so that they understand the needs of your child.

2. Touching

Physical interaction is another part of team sports that can present issues for children with SPD. In hockey, players run into each other as a form of strategy. In basketball, there's bumping and jostling in an attempt to block shots. Even in soccer, players can run into each other, bump into each other, trip, and accidentally hit the ball into each other. Jostling and touching may be difficult to handle and process with SPD. In order to alleviate the sensations of touching, children with SPD can wear compression gear. This can help calm children with SPD and may help reduce the sensation of touch.

3. Sight

Sports uniforms come in a variety of colors and patterns. However, vibrant colors can cause discomfort for children with SPD. The multitude of colors on a sports field could prove to be distracting and overwhelming. Equipping a child with SPD with goggles can help neutralize vibrant colors.

While SPD presents obstacles, it does not prevent a child from participating in team sports. Through using helpful tools like compression gear, children with SPD can play comfortably.


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