How to Recognize the Signs of ‘Sensory Processing Disorder’

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Sensory pprocessing disorder (or SPD) is a neurological condition in which someone cannot interpret external or internal stimuli in the way a “neurotypical” person would. You know your five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. A person with SPD may not like bright lights, loud sirens or spicy smells However, there are also the senses of yourself in space (proprioception) and movement (vestibular). People with SPD can be hypersensitive and avoid it overstimulated, or hyposensitive and can be called “sensory search”.

“Each sensory system is a cup,” he says Samantha Davis, Occupational Therapist with Child Therapy Center. “Iour systems are a good means-size cup,” however for children who are hypersensitive, their cups are small. Stimuli, such as loud sounds, “will cause their cup to overflow and can end in emotional outbursts, behaviors or, for some children, complete shut down.” However, a sensory-the seeker has a large glass—“But because their cup is so big, it takes a lot of input to fill it.” They might like spicy food or spin over and over on the tire swing.

How do you find out if your child has SPD?

Wmy hen the daughter was 2 years oldI realized it was different from other little kids we dated. She avoided being touched by other kids and liked to jump off the scary jungle gyms. She had too big tantrums and it was have trouble eating solids. I knew kids who were Autistics often had sensory sensitivities, but he showed no other signs of being autistic. I find a checklist from Sensory smart parent, and met criteria in several categories of both hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity.

Her pediatrician agreed that this sounded like sensory issues and he referred us to a private occupational therapist for an evaluation. Later they put her in one early intervention program by our neighborhood school district. I found out we could have started there too for a free evaluation and services. If you are wondering if your child might have SPD, cto hell with your insurance on private OT services—many of these types of evaluations and therapies are covered.

What is the connection between SPD, autism, and ADHD?

“At the moment, there is no clear connection between why individuals on the spectrum or who present with adhd they also have SPD,” says Davis. But “sdreams pprocessing dHowever, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD are all neurological disorders. SPD is a comorbidity of the two disorders: aAlthough not all people with ASD or ADHD will also have SPD, Often they do. In fact, more than half of people with ADHD are suspected to also have SPD, and sensory deficits are one of the diagnostic criteria for ASD.” There is also a correlation between anxiety and SPD.

Besides, there have been research that intellectually gifted students are more likely to have sensory sensitivities and SPD. However, being sensitive or having another diagnosis such as ADHD or SPD can make it difficult to identify an intellectually gifted student because it doesn’t always go well. Anecdotally, as a teacher of gifted students, I can say that my gifted students were significantly more responsive than the general population.

How to help your child manage SPD

Occupational therapy is a fabulous idea if your child has sensory sensitivities. They are trained to tailor a “sensory diet” to your child’s specific needs, and they are able to see things its OT lens, the rest of us may not warning For example, our OT noticed that one of the reasons my daughter had trouble with solids was that she wasn’t turning the food in her mouth enough. He did a specific feeding therapy to fix the problem.

“Parents can help their children by first listening to their children and determining the root cause of challenging behaviors and find a way to solve that problem,” says Caitlin Sanschagrin, an OT ico-founder i.oowner of Bright Spot Pediatric Therapy. “Modifications can be small but very effective. Even changing sanitizers from gel to spray can make a big difference for a child who is touch defensive.

Sanschagrin says that children with SPD need to work on their skills in the areas of self-advocacy, sensory exploration, and emotional regulation. Give your child the opportunity to express his own opinions and boundaries, engage in messy play or risky gamei practice mindfulness i calming skills.

How to talk to school about your child’s SPD

SPD is not in the DSM-5, the official criteria for mental health conditions, so it is not always eligible for special education services. Paulette Selmana school psychologist and special education advocate in Oregon and Washington explains, “When children have a medical or clinical diagnosis that affects their progress in school, would qualify under the special education category of “Other Health Problems,” but because of its exclusion from the DSM-5, some children do not qualify for services with a diagnosis of SPD alone. For school-aged children, says Selman your school may offer an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 for a child with sensory issues, whether or not they qualify for SPD if they also have another diagnosis or if “there are delays in learning, behavior or socialization”. If it “substantially limits” school progress, you should be able to get accommodations.

If your child doesn’t need or qualify for special education, Selman stresses that communication between home and school is especially important “for kids who have great behavior in school.” She suggests having a “team meeting” with teachers, the principal or any other staff who work with your child to “review what the doctor recommends in terms of supports at school and get input from the teacher about whether The child needed something different from everyone else.”

Sanschagrin too suggests giving teachers and staff “cheat sheets” to your child contains “a brief summary of the child’s personality, interests and strengths, as well as letting them know which strategies work for them and which don’t work well,” he says. I also go over “triggers” with teachers so they know what to look for before a crisis to help avoid it

Lifelong adaptations

Remember that SPD is not something to “fix”, but something to accommodate. Band by giving our children tools and skills to regulate their bodies and emotions, we can help them incorporate their wonderful sensitivities and notice all the sensations around them without being overwhelmed.

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