April is Occupational Therapy Month: It’s Time to Celebrate the OTs in Your Life!

We celebrate and raise awareness for different professions, disabilities, or even favorite animals by designating days, weeks, or months in their honor. But, it can be all too easy to lose sight of professions that deserve recognition and celebration within the PWS community. One of these is Occupational Therapy. Occupational Therapists (OTs) are vital to the growth and development of individuals with PWS. By using activities of daily living (ADLs), OTs help people across the life span do things that they want and need to do.

Students diagnosed with PWS often receive OT services in school as part of their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). But, many people with PWS have sensory processing deficits that do not go away when they leave school and enter adulthood. Sensory deficits impact emotional regulation, attention, problem-solving skills, and interpersonal relationships. Occupational Therapists have training to identify and then treat these sensory integration and processing problems.

If you or your loved one exhibits any of the characteristics outlined in the chart below, consider getting an occupational therapy evaluation. Chances are you’ll be glad you did!

Many of the indicators in the chart below apply to individuals with PWS.

Occupational Performance Indicators of Sensory Integration and Processing Problems in Adults
Sensory Systems Performance Skills
Somatosensory (Tactile & Proprioceptive)

  • Sensitive to texture and fit resulting in avoidance of some types of clothing (e.g., ties, turtlenecks, pantyhose).
  • Dislikes crowds or jostling in public spaces (e.g., standing in lines or shopping).
  • Becomes irritated with light or unexpected touch. May have difficulty with intimate touch.
  • Limited engagement in food and meal preparation and/or variety in diet.
  • May not discriminate when clothes are askew or food is on their face.


  • Difficulties with balance, dislike of walking on uneven surfaces.
  • Dislikes or disoriented in elevators or on escalators.
  • Becomes nauseous when riding in the car. Needs to ride in the front seat or be the driver.
  • Fearful of leaving the house or of flying.


  • Sensitive to loud sounds.
  • Irritated by sounds not usually bothersome to others (e.g., pencils or pens scratching, lights buzzing, others eating, candy wrappers rustling).



Motor Performance

  • Difficulty driving, parking, shifting gears, or entering a freeway with an automobile.
  • Difficulty managing common home and office equipment.
  • Clumsy or awkward with motor activities (e.g., exercise, leisure, self-care tasks).
  • Difficulty organizing and planning materials and environment, possibly impacting work performance and health and safety at home.
  • Difficulty following directions for community navigation.

Social Performance

  • Difficulty discriminating visual and auditory cues, impacting social interactions and role performance.
  • Difficulty with body awareness, affecting body boundaries and body image.
  • Difficulty discriminating sounds and following verbal directions.
  • Difficulty managing self-care and hygiene.

Emotional Regulation

  • Difficulty discriminating visual and auditory cues, decreasing the ability to understand the emotional expressions of others, resulting in frustration, anxiety, and anger management issues.
  • Difficulty developing adaptive sensory-based physical supports (i.e., exercise, environmental adaptations) for emotional regulation.


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