Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological condition affecting 1 in 20 children.
People living with the disorder misinterpret the world around them through hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch, pressure and movement.
If a person with SPD is over-reactive and avoids sensory experiences they are hypersensitive, but if they are under-reactive and seek out sensory experiences, they are hyposensitive.
People with SPD may also have difficulty with motor skills, react with strong emotional behaviours or have ‘meltdowns’. Children may present learning and behavioural problems as they try and cope with the stress of everyday experiences.
Other symptoms and features of SPD include:
Heightened reactivity to sound, touch or movement
Under-reactive to certain sensations (not noticing name being called, being touched, high pain threshold)
Appears lethargic/disinterested, in their ‘own world’
Has difficulty regulating their own behavioural and emotional responses
Easily distracted, poor attention and concentration
Poor motor skills
Poor sleep patterns
Has restricted eating habits
Becomes distressed during self-care tasks
Avoids movement based equipment (swings, slides)
Has low muscle tone, tires easily and is often slumped in postures
Performs tasks with too much force, has big movements, moves too fast and writes too light or too hard.
Has delayed communication and social skills
Prefers to play on their own or has difficulty in knowing how to play with other children
Has difficulty accepting changes in routine or transitioning between tasks.
Medical, occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychology interventions can help your child cope with processing the world around them.
If you are concerned about your child’s reactions to everyday stimuli, speak to your GP or paediatrician.