SPD, ADHD and Autism Calming Strategies

By Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND The brain needs a balance between excitatory and calming chemicals to control the body’s activity level. This blog post details Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD and autism calming strategies. A wide variety of chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, modulate the brain’s tendencies toward arousal or calming. Adrenaline (or epinephrine) is an excitatory chemical that helps the body respond to danger by dilating the eyes, speeding up the heart and initiating other functions that prepare the body for fight or flight. If an acute response is not necessary, the body can convert adrenaline to dopamine, another excitatory molecule that improves focus and concentration. Both dopamine and epinephrine are important under the appropriate circumstances. However, if adrenaline is dominant in a preschooler during circle time, he will be unable to settle down. Similarly, if excessive dopamine is present, the result is obsessive, rather than focusing, behavior. At bedtime, when the body tries to cycle into sleep, the brain may…

How Sensory Integration and Nutrition Interact

by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND, co-founder, Developmental Delay Resources Sensory integration (SI) is a complex process that makes it possible for a person to take in, organize and interpret information from our bodies and the world.  (Is the soup hot or cold?  Did the bee sting hurt?  Where are my arms and legs?  Do I need to go to the bathroom?)  Using sensory information efficiently enables us to function smoothly in daily life. Most people naturally get a good “sensory diet,” which nourishes the nervous system and creates healthy circuits capable of relaying accurate information.  For children, ordinary touch and movement experiences, such as swinging, climbing, digging, and molding playdough, are “food” for the brain. Children with SI dysfunction, however, misread sensory input, often under- or over-reacting to it.  If a child’s sensory processing is disorganized, he may be hypo- or hypersensitive to temperature, pain, and the way his body works. If behavior becomes out of sync with life, therapy…