Ahead of Occupational Therapy Day (27 October), our Occupational Therapist at Aspris Wellbeing Centre Dubai, Katy Prudhomme du Hancourt, provides helpful strategies to cope with sensory overload.
What is sensory overload?
Sensory overload occurs when an individual's sensory system becomes overwhelmed by stimuli from the environment. These stimuli can include sounds, movement, smells, textures, and more. The brain struggles to process all this information, leading to stress, anxiety, and a reduced ability to function effectively.
In our fast-paced world, sensory overload is something that many people experience, often without even realising it. It is commonly faced by individuals of all ages, from children with an autism spectrum disorder to adults dealing with anxiety. Occupational Therapists play a crucial role in helping individuals manage sensory overload and improve their quality of life.
What are the symptoms of sensory overload?
- Emotional distress: Sensory overload often leads to emotional distress, including feelings of frustration, anxiety, and even anger. Individuals may become irritable and have difficulty regulating their emotions.
- Impaired concentration: It becomes difficult to concentrate or focus on tasks when sensory overload occurs. This can impact on a person’s productivity at school or at work.
- Physical symptoms: Sensory overload can be present physically, with symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and muscle strain.
Six occupational therapy strategies to help cope with sensory overload
1. Sensory integration assessments: Occupational Therapists conduct thorough sensory assessments to identify an individual's sensory triggers and sensitivities. This assessment helps create a personalised treatment plan.
2. Sensory diet: A sensory diet is a specifically created plan that includes activities designed to meet an individual's sensory needs. This might include activities such as deep pressure, using a swing, or sensory breaks.
3. Environmental modifications: Occupational Therapists can recommend changes to the individual's environment to reduce sensory overload. This might involve adjusting lighting, minimising clutter, or providing noise-cancelling headphones.
4. Self-regulation techniques: Occupational Therapists teach self-regulation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness to help individuals cope with sensory overload.
5. Sensory tools: Introducing sensory tools such as fidget toys, weighted blankets, or sensory friendly clothing can provide comfort and reduce sensory overload.
6. Social skills training: For those who struggle with sensory overload in social situations, Occupational Therapists can provide social skills training to improve communication and coping strategies.
Sensory overload can be a significant barrier to daily life, but Occupational Therapists are well equipped to provide support and strategies to manage this effectively for both children and adults. By carrying out assessments, creating sensory diets, providing therapy sessions and teaching self-regulation techniques, Occupational Therapists help individuals regain control and lead more fulfilling lives.
If you or a loved one faces sensory overload challenges, consider consulting with our Occupational Therapists at Aspris Wellbeing Centre to explore personalised solutions to help unlock a brighter and less overwhelming future.
Contact us today
If you’d like to speak to one of our friendly team of experts about sensory overload or any of our mental health services, please contact us today on (+971) 4 385 4493 for our Dubai clinic, or (+971) 2 651 8111 for our Abu Dhabi clinic. Alternatively, click here if you would like to make an online enquiry.
Alongside our adult services, we also have specialist and dedicated teams of child therapists, highly experienced in supporting a wide range of mental health, development and behavioural needs. Our specialist children and adolescent services include assessments for autism and ADHD, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy. Find out more about our child and adolescent services here.