Here's to HAPPIER beach days!
Your Pregnancy|December 2021/January 2022
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
ROXANNE ATKINSON

Q I thought children loved the beach, but when we took our son – he is nearly 1 – he truly didn’t have a good time. He screamed when we put him on the sand, didn’t enjoy having his feet put in the water, and by the time we left I could see that he’d had quite enough. I’m not sure we’ll go back. He showed no interest in playing with the bucket and spade either. Does he have a sensory issue?

ROXANNE ANSWERS: Right off the bat, I want to explain that thereis a big difference between a baby or child disliking an unfamiliar environment (such as their first visit to the beach) and a baby/child having a sensory issue aka being diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD).

This is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. A baby or child is diagnosed with SPD by a registered occupational therapist (OT) when their symptoms are consistent and cause distress and/ or dysfunction in daily life. SPD is not yet recognised as a standalone medical, condition although many professionals believe that it should be. I work in the world of neurodevelopment assisting families and their babies who encounter barriers to typical development. I view myself as a detective trying to work out the ”why.” Is your baby’s response due to a social, emotional, behavioural, cognitive, sensory or motor cause? Or is it a little bit of all of the above? Or is it appropriate for their age and stage? Let’s look a little bit closer.

Unfamiliar environments or ”one-offs” offer less insight about your baby’s sensory processing than how your baby or child manages in their more familiar environments – how they are at home and at school.

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