Sensory Processing disorder or SPD is a neurological disorder that is like a virtual traffic jam in the brain. The information brought in by all the senses are misinterpreted which causes a child to often act inappropriately. 1 in 6 children have sensory concerns that affect their daily life. This disorder affects children with or without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), although it is more common when associated with ASD.
There are 2 different forms of SPD, Hyposensitivity and Hypersensitivity. They can also occur in a combination of the two.
Hyposensitivity is when a child will have trouble focusing due to a lack of sensory input. A child suffering from this form of SPD, will have some, or all, of these symptoms. Some examples are: chewing on objects. They will frequently smell object, food, or people. They have a compulsive need to touch objects or people, even when inappropriate. They consistently seek movement such as spinning or arm flapping.
Hypersensitivity is when a child has difficulty tuning out the senses and in turn is unable to focus. For example: They may become distracted by background noise or have extreme reactions or a fear of loud noises. They may flinch or cover their eyes when exposed to normal levels of light. They may have a resistance to new foods and textures. They may Gag or have discomfort in response to normal smells like soap. They may have an aversion to hair brushing, cuddling, and the tags in their clothing. Or they may have an avoidance of normal movement and activities such as, walking on tiptoes to avoid sensations on their feet.
Like Autism SPD is a lifelong condition. Kids don’t outgrow SPD. However, learning coping strategies can reduce the severity of the symptoms and help the child function properly in normal settings.