I need direction for OT training in sensory processing for adults.

by A.F.
(Nashville, TN, USA)

I am an OTR/L who has only received sensory training from when I was in OT school and one seminar on sensory. I now work with adult men (ages 18-58 years old) at a lock down facility who are at the upper end of mental retardation (MR) as far as IQ. These men are being trained for competency to stand trial. If they are not found competent we train them to go back into society and insure they have 24 hour supports in place. Part of my evaluation is to identify possible sensory processing needs.


The men here are independent with their physical ability to perform ADL’s. The closest thing I have identified as possible sensory needs are: Several of the men self stimulate by rocking, There is one resident who reports he likes to take a shower, but unless he sees he is dirty does not think he needs one. He may go three days without taking a shower. Most of our men are healthy and have no other diagnosis other than MR. About 20% of the population is on psychiatric medication. Two of the men are diagnosed with intermittent explosive disorder and may hit the wall when upset.

I went to the two day Ready Assessment Seminar out of town and $500 later, after cost of travel, hotel, and the cost of the seminar learned all about anatomy and physiology (full day), the single point swing that seemed to be the cure all for most sensory needs (1/2 day), weighted vest or shoulder/lap blankets, and how to fill out the Ready Assessment form (2 hours), I still don’t know enough. Little was covered as to the “So now what do we do” as far as therapy. The examples given during the seminar was geared towards pediatrics. The books I tend to see on sensory disorders tend to be geared towards pediatrics as well.

I can see where some of the pediatric therapy would work with adults, but not others at least not in this setting. I don’t feel like I have had enough training in sensory area. I have a check off sheet to identify possible sensory issues. However, I don’t have the knowledge base on how to provide therapy for them. Will you direct me towards DVD’s or books that will help me understand what possible therapy is applied to various issues for adults?

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Oct 13, 2011
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possible treatments
by: Anonymous

I am a student of OTA, but I have been working with adults with developmental disabilities for 11 years many of whom also have SPD. Putting them on a sensory diet similar to what is done with children has helped tremendously. Things like the listening program would be appropriate for the adults in your setting, also helping them discover if they are hypo or hyper sensitive and in what areas and allowing them to come up with safe alternatives for their self regulating behaviors.

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