Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder

Posted by Melissa Robertson-Bye on

Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD is a neurological disorder where sensory information that a person processes gives an unusual response. Those with SPD perceive and/or respond to sensory information differently than most other people

Kids with SPD aren't trying to be difficult. The brains of people with sensory disorders have a hard time processing the information that the 5 senses observe. This can cause severe reactions to different objects.

There are two different types of Sensory Processing Disorder. Children can have a mix of the two or just one type.

The first is Oversensitivity which causes children to avoid sensory input as it is overwhelming for them to process. The second is under-sensitivity which causes children to seek sensory stimulation.

Children who avoid sensory stimulation can react to various triggers. They can be large crowds, lights, loud sounds, strong smells and different textures. Does not matter what the trigger is, the reaction can be extreme. For example, children could scream, run away, melt down.

Sensory overload can cause sensory meltdowns. These are some signs you might see in your child if they are having a hard time with processing their sensory information.

  • They get overwhelmed by crowds and noise
  • They find quiet places or cover their ears
  • They are bothered by lights especially bright lights
  • They do not want to be hugged or touched
  • They won’t wear certain clothes
  • They get upset over changes in routine
  • They prefer certain textures of food and have a hard time trying new foods. 

Children that are sensory seeking are the opposite. They need movement, they want to be touched and have physical contact with others and they may like a variety of spicy or sour foods.

Here are some signs that you might see in your child:

  • They touch everything
  • They take risks
  • They fidget and squirm
  • They are always moving
  • They don’t understand personal space bubbles
  • They can be distracted and anxious
  • They can be clumsy and uncoordinated

Keep in mind children aren’t always one or the other. Many children seek sensory input in certain situations and in other situations they avoid sensory input. It is important to observe your child to see what triggers them and their reactions. This can help you plan for the future especially when heading to events.

If you have concerns about your child’s sensory behaviours we encourage you to contact your child’s family doctor to discuss your concerns further.