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Physical Therapy for Kids with SPD

Posted by Vanessa De Vera on

Physical Therapy for Kids with SPD

You’ve probably heard of physical therapy, even if you’re unfamiliar with what it looks like in practice or who it benefits. Physical therapy is used for several reasons and has many benefits for both children and adults.

If your child has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder), you might be interested to know that physical therapy can be used to help support sensory integration and promote a better quality of life. And you’ll be excited to know that there are plenty of sensory integration treatment ideas you can try at home!


What is SPD?

First, let’s talk about SPD. It stands for Sensory Processing Disorder, a condition where the brain has trouble getting and processing information related to the senses: sight, touch, hearing, taste, smell, balance, movement, and feeling. 

Whether you know your child has SPD or suspect they might, you probably recognize language, motor, or behavior skill difficulties. 



There are multiple types of sensory processing disorders:

Sensory modulation disorders - Where children can be over-responsive or under-responsive to sensory stimuli. 

Sensory discrimination disorder - Where children have trouble understanding certain stimuli, such as breaking delicate objects because they don’t know how hard they can clutch them.

Sensory-based motor disorder - Also known as a lack of proprioception, SBMD is when kids don’t have a good grasp on where their limbs are positioned.

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a broad term that includes many physical exercises and activities designed to help people achieve a better quality of living. Regarding SPD, physical therapy aims to help integrate the senses and ease symptoms. 

A physical therapy specialist can develop a tailor-made strategy based on your child’s unique sensory needs and challenges. Whether you enroll your child in supervised physical therapy treatment sessions or not, there are many activities and exercises you can try at home. 


Physical Therapy and Sensory Integration

Certain types of physical therapy can help with sensory integration. Specific exercises support the healthy growth and development of individuals struggling with all kinds of sensory processing issues. 

    • Vestibular Activities - These exercises help improve balance and muscle tone. They include: bouncing on a therapy ball, rocking in a rocking chair, swinging, going down a slide, summersaults, being held upside-down, and a hammock.
    • Proprioceptive Input Activities - These exercises help with the perception of body position. They include: crab walking, pushups, hanging from monkey bars, jumping on a trampoline, “body sock,” pushing heavy objects, and joint compressions.
    • Tactile Input Activities - These activities help with hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity. They include: play-dough, fingerpainting, body brushing, fidget toys, water play, and sand play. 


If you suspect your child has SPD, a physical therapy professional can help. While there are plenty of activities you can enjoy at home, it’s best to seek the guidance of an expert before engaging in physical therapy exercises. That way, you can understand your child’s unique needs and how to best address them.


Conclusion: Physical Therapy for Kids With SPD

Whether your child has been diagnosed with SPD or you suspect they have it, physical therapy is an option you’ll want to keep in mind. Even if your child is just “sensitive” to sensory stimuli, the above activities can help them stay calm, manage meltdowns, and regulate moods.

And remember, Sensory Scout is here with useful blogs, sensory-friendly products, and an entire community of support and encouragement. You’ve got this!