Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Written by Tricia Au
Why is SPD important to know?
Our nervous system receives and processes messages from our senses (taste, tactile, sight, smell, sound, vestibular, proprioception and interoceptors). Once the messages have been processed, it will be sorted out into appropriate motor and behavioural responses.
So when does SPD occur? It happens when there is an absence of sensory signals and appropriate responses are not regulated properly. It is crucial to identify if your child may be showing signs of SPD in order to provide the appropriate support and guidance to your child.
How is SPD important?
Try imagining the morning traffic jam happening in your nervous system. Sounds hectic right? The occurrence of a “traffic jam” obstructs certain parts of the brain that are receiving information used to translate sensory information.
Understanding SPD can help you better comprehend why your child may be behaving or reacting differently. Children with SPD often face challenges processing and responding to the information received through their senses. This acts as a barrier for children with SPD especially when they are required to complete tasks. For instance, they may face behavioural issues, anxiety, depression, motor clumsiness, etc.
Recognising SPD in itself is important but learning more about the subdivisions of SPD is crucial in broadening your understanding on how to identify an intervention plan best suited for your child.
What are some symptoms of SPD?
My infant/toddler is extremely irritable when I dress him or her, seems uncomfortable in clothes
My infant/toddler rarely play with toys especially ones with different texture
My infant/toddler has difficulty shifting focus from one activity to another
My infant/toddler does not notice pain or is slow to response when hurt
My infant/toddler resists cuddling, arches back away from the person holding him
My infant/toddler has a “floppy” body, bumps into things and has poor balance
My infant/toddler is extremely active and is constantly moving body/limbs or runs endlessly
My infant/toddler can’t calm self by sucking on pacifier, looking at toys, or listening to my voice
My child has difficulty being toilet trained
My child is overstimulated, overreacts or does not like touch, smell, noice, etc
My child is unaware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force/intensity
My child seems unsure how to move his/her body in space, is clumsy and awkward
My child has difficulty learning new motor skills
My child gets into everyone’s space and/or touches everything around him
My child is intense, demanding or hard to calm and has difficulty in transitioning
My child has sudden mood changes and temper tantrums that are unexpected
My child seems weak, slumps when sitting/standing; prefers sedentary activities
My child does not seem to understand verbal instructions
Child Success Center. (n.d.). Sensory Processing Disorder. [Image]. Retrieved from: https://childsuccesscenter.com/home/resources/sensory-processing/
(2020). Subtypes of SPD. Retrieved from https://www.spdstar.org/basic/subtypes-of-spd
Lucy, J.M. & Doris, A.F. (2007). Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder. TarcherPerigee.
Doreit, B. (2012). No Longer a Secret: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory or Motor Challenges. Future Horizons Incorporated
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