How Can a Sensory Diet Help My Child With Angelman Syndrome?

How Can a Sensory Diet Help My Child With Angelman Syndrome?
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Children with Angelman syndrome tend to have a dysfunctional sensory system, meaning that, at times, they may have unusual responses, over- or under-reactions, to stimulation. A sensory diet could help regulate these sensory responses, and improve learning and behavior.

What is a sensory diet?

A sensory “diet” has little to do with food. Rather, it’s a treatment that can help with sensory processing issues if your child has Angelman. The therapy is made up of a personalized series of activities that you or a caregiver introduces to your child during the day to address such issues.

What are sensory processing issues?

Sensory processing issues are problems with organizing and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Your child may be over-sensitive, under-sensitive, or both, to sensory input. These issues can have a big impact on learning and daily life.

What are common sensory processing issues in Angelman syndrome?

A complex neurological genetic disorder affecting about 1 in 15,000 people, Angelman syndrome is associated with physical and intellectual disabilities including learning disabilities and sleep problems.

An estimated 50% and 70% of Angelman syndrome patients, ages 2 to 15, have sensory processing difficulties. These can occur across a wide range of modalities such as vision, hearing, and touch. Sensory-seeking behaviors are particularly common; patients often have a fascination with water and shiny objects, for example. They may also have sensory processing difficulties associated with the inner ear and balance.

Sensory issues may contribute to difficult and aggressive behaviors, as well as hand flapping, excessive chewing, and sensitivity to heat. Anxiety and coordination problems are also signs of sensory dysfunction.

Who can craft a sensory diet for my child?

An occupational therapist or certified occupational therapy assistant can prescribe and monitor a sensory diet for your child with Angelman syndrome.

What are sensory diet goals?

The aim of the sensory diet is to:

  • Provide your child with sensory information that helps organize the brain
  • Assist your child in inhibiting or modulating sensory information
  • Assist your child in processing a more organized response to sensory stimuli.

What are some sensory diet activities?

Sensory diets are personalized for each child. Here are some examples of exercises that specifically address sensory processing issues:

  • Stacking chairs
  • Erasing chalkboards
  • Eating chewy or crunchy foods
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Playing with rice, beans, or pasta in containers
  • Playing in textured materials such as shaving cream or cornstarch mixed with water
  • Logrolling
  • Bike riding
  • Singing songs that require a change of head position
  • Jumping in place
  • Playing loud, fast-paced music

What if my child reacts negatively?

Your child’s sensory diet is designed to produce beneficial results. Any time there’s a negative reaction, discontinue the activity and never force participation.

 

Last updated: June 1, 2020

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Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. 

Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.
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Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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