Child with sensory processing disorder
  • SPD

Sensory Processing Disorder

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.

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.

Conventional Treatment

Research suggests that Sensory Processing Disorder may be inherited. If so, the causes are encoded in the child's genetic makeup. Environmental, prenatal, and birth complications are also possible contributing factors. Effective treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder is available, though many children with sensory symptoms are misdiagnosed and/or improperly treated. Adults with untreated SPD may struggle with relationships, work, and social situations, so it’s very important to seek early treatment. Unfortunately, many families with an affected child find it hard to get help because Sensory Processing Disorder is, as of yet, not a recognized stand-alone medical diagnosis; however, Autism Spectrum Disorders are often accompanied by sensory processing struggles, so the treatments for SPD are similar.

Treatment for sensory processing problems is called sensory integration therapy and can take a variety of forms. The goal of sensory integration is to challenge a child in a fun, playful way to learn to respond appropriately and function more normally. One type of therapy, developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr Serena Wieder, is called the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR) model. A primary component is floor-time, using child-led floor play to get the child to let the parents into his or her world. The sessions are tailored to the child’s needs and the desired sensory-appropriate outcomes. Children with SPD benefit from a treatment program of occupational therapy with a regulation, relationship, and sensory integration approach in a sensory-rich environment.

Support

At The Brain Possible, our goal is to empower you to take a holistic approach to your child’s treatment. Below are ways in which you can support several aspects of your child’s recovery; before embarking on any, be sure to discuss them with your trusted health care providers.

Physical

Emotional/Social

Sensory

Intellectual

Nutritional/Environmental

Physiological

We understand that the categorization of conditions on The Brain Possible may not perfectly describe your child.

Our goal is inclusivity, opening the door to dialogue and information sharing.