Calming the Sensory Storm: Common Behavioral Therapy Techniques for SPD

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can significantly impact a child’s behavior, leading to frustration, meltdowns, and difficulty coping with sensory overload. Fortunately, various behavioral therapy techniques can help children with SPD develop self-regulation skills and manage their sensory needs more effectively.

Here are five common behavioral therapy techniques used for SPD, with examples of their application:

Positive Reinforcement:

  • Description: Rewarding desired behaviors with positive consequences like praise, tokens, or preferred activities.
  • Example: A child with SPD who avoids loud environments receives a sticker for sitting through a restaurant meal without becoming overwhelmed.


  • Description: Ignoring undesired behaviors that are not reinforced by attention, praise, or rewards.
  • Example: A child who throws tantrums when they don’t get their way is calmly ignored until they calm down.


  • Description: Gradually shaping desired behaviors by rewarding progressively closer approximations of the desired goal.
  • Example: A child who struggles with fine motor skills is rewarded for attempting to write their name, even if the letters are not perfect.

Differential Reinforcement:

  • Description: Rewarding desired behaviors while providing neutral or negative consequences for undesired behaviors.
  • Example: A child who screams when they are frustrated receives a calming activity like a sensory bottle or weighted blanket when they use their words to express their feelings.

Sensory Integration Activities:

  • Description: Engaging in activities that stimulate different sensory systems to promote sensory processing and self-regulation.
  • Example: A child who is sensitive to touch is provided with a deep pressure vest or calming massage to help them feel organized and relaxed.


  •  Implementing behavioral therapy techniques effectively requires collaborating with a qualified therapist who can personalize the interventions based on the individual child’s needs and challenges. Consistency and patience are crucial for success, and celebrating even small victories can foster a positive learning environment and promote long-term behavioral change.

Additional Tips for Parents:

    • Provide clear and consistent expectations.
    • Create a structured and predictable routine.
    • Offer choices and empower children to make decisions.
    • Identify and avoid triggers for sensory overload.
    • Use positive communication and avoid criticism.
    • Celebrate successes and provide encouragement.


  • By working together, parents, therapists, and educators can help children with SPD develop the skills they need to navigate the sensory world with confidence and thrive in their daily lives.

Additional Resources for Parents:

How Dr. Sumeet Dhawan Can Help:


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