Sensory Processing Disorder: What You Need to Know

This disorder leads to an inability to respond properly to sensory activities, e.g., startling sounds and very bright lights. A child with this disorder might be very opposed to even minor alterations in daily routine, changes in food taste or consistency, or even the feel of certain clothes against the skin. Children with this disorder typically have one or multiple senses that either underreact or overreact to stimulation. Sensory processing disorder may trigger problems with the behavior and development of a child.

Often, children having autism or other developmental disabilities experience sensory processing disorders. However, it can also be associated with brain injury, premature birth, and other conditions.

Sensory processing disorder might affect only one sense like taste, touch, or hearing. Or it might affect multiple senses. Like many other illnesses, the symptoms of this disorder exist on a spectrum. Children who get stimulated easily might have hypersensitivity. And children who’re not as easily stimulated experience fewer sensations and might have hyposensitivity. The type of sensitivity a child has might largely determine their symptoms. For instance, children having hypersensitivity often behave as though everything is too bright or too loud. Conversely, children having hyposensitivity may engage more with the world around them to get sensory feedback.

If someone suspects that their child has sensory issues, there’re some signs that might indicate it’s time to consult with the doctor. These include – the behavior of the child starts interrupting their everyday life, the symptoms start taking a dramatic turn such as a clumsy child is suddenly experiencing problems standing or moving at all, and their reactions have become extremely difficult to manage.

At this time, it’s not a recognized medical diagnosis, which means there’s no official criterion for a diagnosis. However, occupational therapists generally see and treat both children and adults having sensory processing problems. Parents can also take the child to a physical therapist who can develop a regimen of activities to satiate their craving for sensory input. These may include running in place or doing jumping jacks. The treatment depends on the individual needs of a child. However, it generally involves helping children get used to the things they cannot tolerate and perform better at activities they’re usually not good at. The goal of the treatment (commonly known as sensory integration) is to challenge the child in a playful, fun way so they can learn to function more normally and respond appropriately.

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