Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a poorly understood condition that affects thousands of children each year. SPD can greatly impact your child's everyday functioning, everything from eating and getting dressed to socializing with peers and succeeding at school. Take this quiz and learn more about this common, yet misunderstood disorder.
Sensory processing refers to how your brain receives and transmits messages to and from the senses. Sensory processing is also known as sensory integration (SI).
Sensory processing is a vital brain function and is typically involved in almost everything you do, from riding a bike to eating pizza.
People with sensory processing disorder, also known as sensory integration dysfunction, have difficulty with receiving sensory information in the brain. These individuals also have difficulty processing sensory information once it is received in the brain.
A child with sensory processing disorder is at risk for a whole host of mental health concerns, including academic difficulties, behavioral problems, anxiety and depression. These kids also experience motor clumsiness.
According to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, approximately 5 percent of children experience sensory processing disorder symptoms to the extent that it interferes with daily life functioning.
Some people with SPD over-respond to stimulation and find certain senses unbearable, like the sensation of clothing or bright lights. Other people with SPD under-respond to stimulation and may not react to extreme hot or cold sensations.
Children who under-respond to stimulation may be in constant hyper drive, seeking stimulation at every turn. These kids may go misdiagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Preliminary findings from the SPD Foundation suggest that the disorder is genetic. Birth complications and other environmental factors may also contribute to the disorder.
Unfortunately, children with SPD may experience frequent teasing by peers and underachievement at school. This can result in social isolation and low self-esteem.
Children with SPD are frequently labeled as: disruptive, out-of-control, uncooperative and/or clumsy by teachers.
Children with SPD typically don't have intellectual difficulties. Rather, these children require different educational modalities for learning.
Children with SPD benefit greatly from occupational therapy that takes a sensory integration approach.
The primary goal of occupation therapy for SPD involves teaching appropriate ways to respond to various sensory information. Occupational therapy sessions take place in a highly stimulating environment, such as an “OT” gym.
Occupation therapy for SPD takes a family approach. Parents are encouraged to learn more about their child's unique needs and to implement a “sensory diet” of sensory activities at home.
Following successful occupational therapy, a child with SPD should be able to engage in everyday, age-appropriate activities, such as, playing with friends, enjoying school, eating properly, and so on.