Does Your Child Have Sensory Processing Disorder?
Some children have extreme reactions to specific sights and sounds. In response, parents often assume that it is a symptom of ADHD or autism. Yet, the kid might have a sensory processing disorder.
If this scenario applies to your child, you must have the correct assessment to provide immediate treatment. This article will discuss the signs, causes, and treatments for SPD. Also, we will contrast it with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.
What is a sensory processing disorder?
SPD affects how the brain receives and responds to information or stimuli. The latter includes something a person sees, hears, tastes, touches, and smells. Sensory processing disorder could affect the five senses or only one. Often, it means you are too sensitive to things that do not elicit the same reaction from most people.
Sometimes, SPD could have the opposite effect. In other words, you require more information to impact you. Children have a higher risk of this disorder than adults. The latter group usually has the symptoms since their childhood. However, these people have found ways to cope with SPD and live normal lives.
Unfortunately, doctors have not agreed on whether sensory processing disorder is a separate illness. Some say it is a symptom of other disorders like ADHD or autism. For example, a kid with these health conditions may also have SPD. However, having SPD does not always mean having autism and ADHD too.
Other doctors say the symptoms of SPD are merely signs of a highly sensitive child. As a result, health experts do not recognize sensory processing disorder as an official medical diagnosis.
Signs of sensory processing disorder
Someone with SPD may either be oversensitive or undersensitive. You can identify which category your kid belongs based on specific behaviors.
Let us start with the symptoms of oversensitivity:
- Clothes feel itchy or scratchy
- The lights seem too bright
- Sounds seem too loud
- Soft touches seem too harsh
- Food textures make the child gag.
- Child seems clumsy
- Fear of playing on swings
- Adverse reactions to sudden moves, lights, and sounds
- Poor motor skills
- Other behavior problems
On the other hand, here are the symptoms of undersensitive SPD:
- Cannot sit in one place
- Jumping off heights and other thrill-seeking behaviors
- Spinning without feeling dizzy
- No response to social cues
- Does not recognize personal space
- Chews on things like clothes and their hands
- Seeks visual stimulation, especially from gadgets
- Have trouble sleeping
- Does not recognize when their face is dirty
Research shows that intellectually gifted children are likelier to have sensory processing disorders. However, the illness makes it harder to identify such innate prowess.
How to treat SPD
Sensory processing disorder does not have an official medical classification. Doctors do not have ways to prevent this illness. However, treatment often comes from therapy.
It is best to refer your child to a pediatrician to confirm their health. The doctor will refer your kid to an occupational therapist if there are symptoms of SPD.
The therapist will ask your kid questions and watch them act in specific situations. Then, the expert may recommend sensory integration therapy, sensory diet, and occupational therapy.
Sensory integration therapy or SI involves fun activities in a controlled environment. As a result, your kid experiences stimuli while avoiding negative effects.
More importantly, it would help them cope with specific stimuli. Consequently, the child may find a way to live normally with these problems.
A sensory diet is a list of sensory activities for home and school designed to help your kid remain focused and organized. Moreover, it often goes with other SPD therapies and may include:
- A 10-minute walk for every hour
- Playing on a swing twice a day for 10 minutes
- Headphones for music during class
- Fidget spinners and similar toys
- Chair bungee cord that lets your kid move their legs
Occupational therapy helps with the other symptoms of sensory processing disorder. Specifically, it improves fine motor skills like handwriting and gross motor skills like climbing stairs.
Parents must also listen to their child to determine the SPD behaviors’ root cause. In turn, they will find a way to solve these issues.
You should talk to your child’s school if they have a sensory processing disorder. Find ways to ensure your kid will avoid things that could worsen their condition.
You might need to transfer the child to a special education class or another school. Also, remember that SPD has no official diagnosis, so it might not be part of your current insurance plan.
Note that this article does not provide medical advice. Consult a doctor to confirm your son or daughter’s health and receive proper recommendations for treatment.