Sensory Integration

How to Tell If Behavioral Problems Are the Result of a Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) which is also referred to as ‘sensory integration dysfunction’ is said to occur when a person (usually a child) has difficulty with processing sensory information. Children might find physical contact, sound, light, food, certain clothing or other sensory stimulus intolerable. Other children may have no reaction at all to stimulation or very little, which includes pain. Balance, motor skills, and posture are often affected.

Signs of Behavioral Problems Related to SPD

Below is a list of behavioral problems that may be linked to a Sensory Processing Disorder:

  • Easily distracted.
  • Short attention spans.
    Having tantrums.
  • Over-sensitive to noise, smells, touch, other people.
  • Appear disorganized.
  • Hyperactive.
  • Being fidgety or squirmy.
  • Stiff  or floppy, clumsy body.
  • Poor hand-eye coordination.
  • Difficulty balancing.
  • Either under-responsive or overactive.
  • Child may be overpowering or become isolated when socializing with peers.

Kids with SPD are just as smart as other children. Some are even intellectually gifted. They just have different wired brains. They process information differently than their peers and need to be taught and provided leisure activities that will suit their special sensory processing needs.

Once an accurate SPD diagnosis has been given, the children will benefit most through an occupational therapy treatment program that includes a sensory integration (SI) approach. If needed, the well-trained specialist might apply listening therapy as well as other therapies that will complement the OT and SI treatment.

Occupational therapy for children with SPD is ideally family-centered. Parents are encouraged to participate and work together with the pediatric OT specialist to learn the sensory challenges of their child and the therapeutic activities to work with their children at home. The therapist will usually offer advice to teachers and other family members who have regular interactions with the child.

SPD treatment helps parents who work and live with sensational children to realize that this condition is very real in spite of it being ‘hidden’. Parents can become better advocates for their children in the community and at school with this assurance.

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