The sensory process (also known as sensory integration) is the process in which the central nervous system receives messages from the senses. The central nervous system reacts to those messages with appropriate motor and behavioral responses. When the central nervous system has difficulty receiving and responding to the information that the senses send, the result is a condition known as sensory processing disorder, or sensory integration dysfunction.
Since individuals with sensory processing disorder have difficulty processing information that their senses send, they often have difficulty reacting appropriately to certain stimuli. For example, a person with this condition may find common sounds overwhelming, or he may find that the touch of a certain material is irritating. Some of the common challenges associated with this condition include:
- Being uncoordinated
- Difficulty distinguishing where the limbs are in space
- Trouble with engaging in conversation or play
Sensory processing disorder is typically identified in children, and if left untreated, a child with this condition will face tremendous challenges. With the help of pediatric occupational therapist, children who have this condition can learn how to take control of it.
There are specific signs that indicate a child may have sensory processing disorder. These signs include:
- Dramatic mood swings
- Temper tantrums over what may seem like trivial matters
- An unusually high or low tolerance to pain
- Crashing into things
- Constant tripping
- Overreacting to being wet
- Recoiling to certain textures or foods
- Screaming when touched
The symptoms of sensory processing disorder exist on a spectrum, meaning that they vary from person to person. With the help of a pediatric occupational therapist, a child with this condition can learn how to tolerate things that make him uncomfortable and improve his responses.