Sensory processing describes how the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), exists when sensory signals are either not detected or not organized into appropriate responses. A child with SPD has difficulty processing and, therefore, acting on information received through the senses. This dysfunction creates challenges in performing numerous daily tasks and causes motor clumsiness, behavioral concerns, anxiety, depression, educational struggles, and many other problems. Research suggests that one child in every 20 is affected by SPD and one in every six experiences sensory symptoms significant enough to affect daily living. Children with Sensory Processing Disorder may be affected by only one sensory dysfunction or multiple senses may be involved.
SPD is complex because some people are oversensitive to things in their environment, causing common sounds or smells to be painful or overwhelming, while others show little or no reaction to stimulation, such as not experiencing pain in extreme temperatures. Children with Sensory Processing Disorder may lack coordination and bump into things, have poor spatial awareness, and be difficult to engage in conversation or activities. They often don't handle change well and may throw frequent tantrums or have meltdowns. Children with SPD tend to have problems with skills and abilities required for educational success and social growth. Consequently, they may struggle to make friends or be a part of a group, have poor self-concept, experience academic failure, and be viewed as clumsy, uncooperative, and/or disruptive.