Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological condition occurring when the brain and nervous system do not understand and interpret sensory stimuli correctly, resulting in the children’s response to stimuli to be hypersensitive or hypersensitive. Sensory preferences interfere with normal everyday functioning due to strong aversions and misinterpretations in processing sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.
Moreover, SPD impairs language development particularly in comprehension, enunciation, and reading aloud. Typically, children diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder require longer learning time for new activities but are just as capable of learning to the same level as children without the disorder.
Hypersensitivity is an extreme reaction to sensory stimuli. Children with hypersensitive Sensory Processing Disorder frequently experience sensory overload or overstimulation. Exhibiting fear or anxiety when stimulated by certain sounds and unexpected touches is a strong indication the child has SPD.
Touch aversion is common in children with hypersensitive SPD symptoms. Signs of touch aversion are resisting hugs, avoiding crowds, and refusing to touch or wear materials with despised textures. Furthermore, children express different types of auditory sensitivity. Examples of auditory sensitivity are:
Hyper-acute hearing: indicated by the child becoming overwhelmed and bothered by faint sounds that others are unbothered by and often do not notice.
Hypersensitive hearing: evident when children are fearful of sounds such as silverware clanking, toilet flushing, and babies crying that he or she experiences as being much louder.
Auditory sensory overload: occurs when multiple competing audible sources overwhelm the brain (i.e. music, conversation, and dishes clanking at a restaurant occur at the same time)
In contrast, hyposensitivity is an under-reaction to sensory stimuli. Children with hypersensitive Sensory Processing Disorder are not easily stimulated. Muted sounds, sights, and a touch of stimuli are common. Displaying a craving to touch people or preferred textures, frequently putting objects in his or her mouth, and being unphased by or having a delayed response to pain are the primary indicators of a child with Hypersensitive SPD. Additionally, the inability to understand and respect personal space boundaries (i.e. violating the space bubble) is a common occurrence. Further hypersensitive behaviors to recognize are inability to sit still (fidgety); poor motor skills and coordination (clumsy, tripping, falling); an unawareness of strength (tight gripping of toys or children).
Frequently, children with Sensory Processing Disorder experience a high level of fear or a meltdown when triggered by a stimulus to which he or she has a strong aversion. These triggers are tangible or an interpretation of other stimuli that cause a reaction. Reactions to the stimuli are typically extreme and intolerable to the child. Identifying triggers can enable parents to better assist their children with coping strategies. Observe your child’s response to the following stimuli:
Common Sensory Triggers:
Strong scents and odors
Bitter or tart food
Tight clothes or shoes
Tags on clothes
Hair brushing/pulling from tangles