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Understanding Your Child’s Sensory World: A Parent’s Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder

Rogers Bridge » Occupational Therapy » Understanding Your Child’s Sensory World: A Parent’s Guide to

Sensory Processing Disorder

In today’s world, sensory processing disorder, also referred to as SPD, has become a buzzword. Sensory Processing Disorder is often mentioned among parents, teachers, health care providers, and individuals alike. While you may have heard of SPD, understanding its impact in how to support your child can feel overwhelming. In this blog, we will explore the world of sensory sensitivities, explain the signs of SPD, and provide practical strategies for managing and nurturing your child’s sensory needs. 

Unlocking the key to sensory sensitivities is a vital step to understanding SPD and is essential to grasping the concept of sensory systems and how it affects your child.

Example of Vestibular Input.jpg

Here’s a closer look at the 8 sensory systems and their roles:

  • Visual: helps your child perceive and process visual information through receptors in and behind the eyes. 

  • Auditory: enables your child to hear and process sounds using the structures of the inner and outer ears. 

  • Tactile: involves receptors in the skin, allowing your child to determine if something feels pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral upon touch. 

  • Gustatory: relates to your child’s sense of taste, involving taste buds and structures within the mouth that identify different flavors. 

  • Olfactory: your child’s sense of smell relies on thousands of tiny hairs and structures in the nose to detect various sins. 

  • Vestibular: vital for maintaining balance, this system uses changes in fluid distribution within the inner ear to inform your child’s brain about their body’s orientation. 

  • Proprioception: helps your child understand the positioning of their body in relation to the environment by utilizing receptors in the joints. 

  • Interoception: provides internal cues, informing your child about hunger, restroom needs, and bodily discomfort.

By understanding these sensory systems, you can better comprehend how sensory input influences your child’s daily experiences. 

Example of Proprioception Input.jpg
Examples of Tactile Input - 02.jpg

Identifying signs of sensory processing disorder and recognizing the signs of SPD is crucial for early intervention and support. Here are some common symptoms to lookout for in children:

  • Discomfort with certain clothing textures or a strong preference for specific materials.

  • Sensitivity to loud noises, requiring adjustments to volume levels. 

  • Difficulty with specific food textures, leading to gagging or avoidance. 

  • Fear of swings or challenges with activities involving vestibular input. 

  • Enjoying excessive jumping or swinging to regulate their sensory needs. 

  • Frequent falls or accidental bumps due to difficulties with body awareness. 

  • High pain tolerance,

  • Chewing on objects like pencils or fingernails to seek sensory input. 

  • Lack of awareness of dirt on hands or face, or an excessive need for cleanliness.

  • Challenges with bath time or difficulties respecting personal space boundaries.

Example of Gustatory.jpg
Example of Proprioception - 02.png
Examples of Tactile Input - 01.JPEG


Although SPD may not be officially recognized as a medical diagnosis, understanding and supporting your child’s sensory processing difficulties are crucial. Here are practical strategies you can implement at home: 

  • Create a sensory-friendly environment by minimizing loud noises and providing comfortable clothing options.

  • Offer a variety of food textures to gradually expand your child’s palate while respecting their preferences. 

  • Introduce calming activities like swinging or jumping on a trampoline to provide vestibular input.

  • Provide sensory breaks throughout the day, allowing your child to engage in calming or stimulating activities based on their sensory needs. 

  • Encourage the use of sensory tools, such as fidget toys or weighted blankets, to help your child self-regulate. 

  • Maintain open communication with your child’s teachers and healthcare providers to ensure a consistent approach to managing their sensory needs. 

Seeking professional help: If you suspect that your child may be experiencing sensory processing difficulties consider reaching out to an occupational therapist for an evaluation. These professionals specialize in sensory integration and can provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to your child’s unique needs. By identifying the signs of sensory processing disorder and implementing practical strategies in your home, you can create an environment that nurtures and embraces your child’s sensory needs.


"Jessie is such a loving and caring therapist. Her passion for helping her patients and families show every visit. She is open to what works for each patient while being effective and productive. She is responsive and able to adapt to her patient's moods. Speech therapy has never been my son's favorite, and he has been to known to be a bit difficult, but it never slowed Jessie down. She was always so loving and made the sessions fun for him. I would recommend her to anyone looking for a great therapist."  – Belinda

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