What To Do If You Think Your Child Has Sensory Processing Disorder

Do you wonder if a loved one has sensory issues? Read our post and learn about the red flags for different age groups showing behaviours of individuals which could signal Sensory Processing Disorder. Oversensitivity or under sensitivity to any of the senses makes life extremely difficult for all family members dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). One little sensitive child can disrupt the activities of the whole household: meals, dressing up times, bed times, car travels, family visits …

We Receive And Perceive Sensory Input Through Sights, Sounds, Tastes,Touch, Smells, Movement and Balance, Body Position and Muscle Control

Parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorder ( SPD) know very well that besides sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell there are other senses many forget. There are 8 different senses when these last three are added: 

  • vestibular – sense of balance
  • proprioception – the ability to know how your body parts are oriented
  • interoception – internal sense of body function that tells you of pain, hunger, need to use the bathroom

We all learn through our senses. Sensory processing is how we transform sensory information from within our own bodies and the external environment into messages we can act on. Devastating consequences occur when something goes wrong with this processing. Children (and adults) can be hypo or hyper sensitive.

Red Flags for Sensory Processing Disorder

Some behaviours of individuals which could signal red flags for Sensory Processing Disorder:

– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR

Infants and toddlers

____ Problems eating or sleeping

____ Refuses to go to anyone but their mom for comfort

____ Irritable when being dressed; uncomfortable in clothes

____ Rarely plays with toys

____ Resists cuddling, arches away when held

____ Cannot calm self

____ Floppy or stiff body, motor delays

Pre-schoolers

____ Over-sensitive to touch, noises, smells, other people

____ Difficulty making friends

____ Difficulty dressing, eating, sleeping, and/or toilet training

____ Clumsy; poor motor skills; weak

____ In constant motion; in everyone else’s  “face and space”

____ Frequent or long temper tantrums

Grade-schoolers

___ Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, other people

___ Easily distracted, fidgety, craves movement; aggressive

___ Easily overwhelmed

___ Difficulty with handwriting or motor activities

___ Difficulty making friends

___ Unaware of pain and/or other people

Adolescents and adults

___ Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, and other people

___ Poor self-esteem; afraid of failing at new tasks

___ Lethargic and slow

___ Always on the go; impulsive; distractible

___ Leaves tasks uncompleted

___ Clumsy, slow, poor motor skills or handwriting

___ Difficulty staying focused

___ Difficulty staying focused at work and in meetings

___ Unmotivated; never seems to get joy from life

Sensory Processing Disorder was called Sensory Integration Disorder or Sensory Integration Dysfunction. A universal term was sought enabling parents to receive insurance reimbursement for the diagnoses and the treatment. So the term now accepted is Sensory Processing Disorder.

What To Do

If You Think Your Child Has Sensory Processing Disorder

So that your sensitive child receives adequate treatments/accommodations/ therapy as soon as possible, arrange to have him seen by professionals. Start with your family doctor who will make arrangements for you to see others who deal with sensory issues in children. When strategies to help your child cope with his surroundings are already established, the transition into the school setting will be smoother.

Your child with SPD might be schedule to receive treatment from some of the following: Occupational therapist, Listening therapist, Physical therapists, Speech/language therapists and others trained to use a sensory integration therapy approach to help with your child’s treatment. Parents will often be referred to private clinics and practices or hospital outpatient departments to find treatment for SPD or for sensory issues.

If your child has pronounced sensivities, do not attempt to deal with these overwhelming distressing problems alone. Speak to other parents, read about it, join support groups, get professional help and when he goes to school inform his teachers.

What is the most useful suggestion you have received from a professional to help your sensitive child cope with his environment? Share by leaving us a comment.

Excellent site for all things about Sensory Processing Disorder: SPD Foundation

Top TEN Children’s Books and Music CD’s on Sensory Processing Disorder Reviewed by Special Needs Book ReviewGreat parenting books and post about Sensory Processing Disorder:

7 Comments

  • Dr. Mindy McNeal Posted October 28, 2013 4:18 pm

    As a teacher I had sensory breaks every 15-20 minutes during instruction. All students benefited and learning was greatly enhanced. I had a great OT at the school and she gave me great ideas. Parents and teachers should ask the special education teachers and support staff for help.

    • Lorna dEntremont Posted November 2, 2013 12:03 am

      Thanks Dr. Mindy McNeal for your helpful comment.

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  • Maegan Jones Posted March 17, 2018 5:04 am

    Hello Lorna,

    A large portion of the medical community says no. But parents of children who exhibit symptoms say otherwise.

    Healthline just published a new report https://www.healthline.com/health-news/sensory-processing-disorder detailing both sides of the debate and offering a new look at this controversial yet increasingly diagnosed condition.

    Read the full report https://www.healthline.com/health-news/sensory-processing-disorder and let Healthline know what side of the debate you stand on.

    In health,


    Maegan Jones | Content Coordinator
    Healthline
    Your most trusted ally in pursuit of health and well-being

    • Lorna dEntremont Posted March 21, 2018 11:27 am

      Thanks Maegan Jones for adding this link to a report on sensory processing disorder. We have a daughter and now a granddaughter with sensory issues. To our family sensory processing disorder is very real.

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