When parents of children with learning and behavioral difficulties are asked if their kids experience problems with sensory processing, chances are many of them will answer “yes”! Many children have difficulty regulating sensory input, which can be anywhere from mild to severe in nature.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), also called Sensory Integration Dysfunction, is a condition that affects how your brain processes sensory information. Sensory information enters your body through what you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch, and how you respond to movement and pressure sensations in your body. SPD can affect all of your senses, or just one or two. Having sensory processing disorder usually means you’re more or less sensitive to sensory responses than others. Difficulty with processing sensations correctly can result in overly hyper or shy behaviors. These children are often bright and capable, but have a hard time getting through the day.
Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder:
SPD can affect one sense or multiple senses. Children who have SPD may overreact to the feeling of clothes, touch, sounds and food textures. They may also underreact to sensory input. This causes them to crave more intense thrill-seeking stimuli. Some examples include jumping off tall things, spinning excessively, or swinging too high on the playground. Children with SPD often have a combination of oversensitive and under-sensitive responses.
Signs of sensory processing- hyper sensitive (over sensitive):
- Clothing feels too scratchy or itchy.
- Lights are too bright.
- Sounds are too loud.
- Soft touch feels adverse.
- Food textures make them gag.
- More clingy than others/overwhelmed.
- Afraid of swings.
- Intense emotional outbursts.
- Bothered by sounds others don’t hear.
- Avoids hugs and cuddling on most occasions.
Signs of sensory processing- hypo sensitive (under-sensitive or sensory-seeking):
- Can’t sit still, constantly touching or “on the go”.
- Seek thrills (jumping, rough play, heights, and spinning).
- Can spin without getting dizzy.
- Not attentive to social cues.
- Not aware or respectful of others’ personal space.
- Chews, licks or mouths things.
- Difficulty settling to fall asleep no matter how early you start.
- Messy face, hair or twisted clothes.
- Clumsy, uncoordinated, falls out of chairs.
- Very high pain tolerance.
The Impact of Sensory Processing Difficulties
Sensory processing difficulties lead to stress responses in the child. When sensory systems do not provide accurate information to the body, it can result in other responses. It can affect a child’s motor skills, attention, coordination, language skills, and independence. Your child may have trouble performing well in school and keeping up with peers. These symptoms left untreated often result in low self-esteem in school-age children. Anxiety and depression can also result. With understanding, support and the right activities, your child can mature his or her nervous system to no longer have to struggle with sensory processing disorder.
How to get help for Sensory Processing Disorder
At Pediatric Potentials, Inc., we specialize in Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing Therapy and play-based treatment interventions that are specifically designed to regulate all of the senses. Sensory Integration, developed by Dr. Jean Ayers, involves specific sensory activities (swinging, bouncing, brushing, and lots of physical activity) that are intended to help your child regulate his or her response to incoming sensory input. The outcome of these activities may be better focus and attention, improved behavior, greater coordination, and even lowered anxiety and a balanced activity level.
If you have questions regarding your child’s development or want to learn more about how sensory processing therapy and occupational therapy can help, call our office today at 407-322-3962. We provide services in Lake Mary, Longwood, Maitland, Winter Park, Winter Springs, Orlando and throughout Central Florida.