What is
Sensory Processing Disorder?

Rogers Bridge » Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that impacts the brain’s ability to process different sensory information or different stimuli. This disorder may impact all senses or just impact one. Individuals with sensory processing disorder may be overly sensitive or underly sensitive to stimuli that others usually do not notice. It impacts a person’s ability to participate in everyday activities. Occupational therapists use sensory integration therapy to help a child organize information received from their senses and respond appropriately to the information gained.

(Related Reading: How do you Treat Sensory Processing Disorder?)

 

Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder

"I am especially thankful for Cristina's patience and experience with pediatric clients. My daughter progressed tremendously under her care." — Shacresa

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that impacts the brain’s ability to process different sensory information or different stimuli.

1. Auditory Sensitivity
Auditory sensitivity is a common feature of SPD. This usually involves being overly sensitive to sounds. The sensitivity may be specific to certain frequencies or certain sounds. Individuals with auditory sensitivity may not be able to tolerate fire alarms or be unable to tolerate the hum of a refrigerator. A common sign of auditory sensitivity is for children to cover their ears when they hear certain sounds, startle easily with unexpected sounds, or be easily distracted by background noises.

2. Smell Sensitivity

Children with SPD may be overly sensitive to smells.  It can be common smells like coffee or air freshener. A sign of being overly sensitive to smells is to gag or vomit when encountering smells that are unpleasant to the individual. These smells may not be noticeable to individuals without SPD.

3. Visual Sensitivity

Visual perception is affected when your brain is unable to correctly process information that is taken in through the eyes. Indications of a child being overly sensitive visually include not making eye contact with others, shielding their eyes from bright lights, or being easily distracted by decorations. If a child is underly sensitive, you may see a child dangle items in front of their face, shaking toys while watching intently, wiggling fingers in front of their eyes, staring at objects spinning, or flipping through pages of a book without looking at the pictures.  

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We would love to talk with you about how sensory processing may be impacting your child. Our occupational therapists can help children improve their sensory processing. Call or email/contact us to discuss your child and how occupational therapy could benefit them.

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4. Difficulty Concentrating

Another characteristic of SPD is difficulty concentrating. This can manifest by not being able to follow directions, having difficulty with new routines, or being unable to filter out distractions that do not seem to bother individuals without SPD.

5. Poor fine motor skills

A child with SPD may not tolerate touching different things. They may not manipulate small objects as it does not feel comfortable to touch them. This places their fine motor skills at risk of not developing at the same rate as their peers.

 

6. Difficulty with textures

A child with SPD may have difficulty tolerating different textures. These difficulties may be seen in clothing and with food. The child may not tolerate tags in their clothing or is unable to wear certain textures. A child that has difficulty with textures of food may be considered a picky eater as they have limited food preferences, may gag when given certain textures of foods, or refuse to try new foods.  

 

7. Does not feel pain or touch normally

A child with SPD can be overly sensitive or underly sensitive to touch. If a child is overly sensitive to touch, they may be unable to participate in everyday activities like washing hair, brushing hair, cutting hair, brushing their teeth, or may dislike being touched. A child who is underly sensitive to touch may have a high pain tolerance, take physical risks, have a constant need to touch people or things, or constantly chew on items that are not usually chewed (shirts, pencils, or toys). 

8. May have difficulty with gross motor skills 

Children that have difficulty with gross motor skills may be considered clumsy. This is due to a child not knowing where their body is in space. They may think that their arm is raised above their head, but their arm is straight in front of them. This makes walking, running, or riding a bike extremely difficult as they are unable to coordinate their body through space. 

Does your child demonstrate any of these signs?
We're happy to provide more insights. Reach out to us to learn more.

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