What is SPD?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder in which sensory information—such as light, sound, or touch—is either undetected or incorrectly processed by the brain. This often results in either extreme sensitivity or extreme underreaction to normal sensory input, especially in children. Individuals with SPD may also have problems performing certain motor tasks, appear withdrawn and anxious, or exhibit unusually aggressive or thrill-seeking behavior.
Check out our What Is SPD? page for more information, including specific tips on how to support children with seeking/avoiding behaviors and sensory discrimination challenges.
Did You Know?
Do you have to have autism, ADHD, or some other diagnosis in order to have SPD?
No, sensory processing issues can be—and often are—diagnosis agnostic. However, recent studies have shown as many as 40% of children with ADHD and 75% of children with autism spectrum disorders have significant sensory processing issues.
What causes SPD?
The cause of SPD is currently unknown. Some research suggests there may be a genetic or inherited component. Prenatal/birth complications and environmental triggers have also been named as potential factors.
How do I know if my child struggles with sensory processing?
No two children are alike, and the exact symptoms of SPD can vary widely depending on each child’s surroundings, emotional state, and particular sensitivity. That being said, many children with SPD will show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch, or smell
- Poor gross or fine motor skills/coordination
- Exceptionally high or low pain tolerance
- Refusal to eat certain foods/gagging while eating
- Tendency to become distracted or “spaced out”
- Late or impaired language development
- Difficulty recognizing others’ physical space/boundaries
- Difficulty learning new things or following verbal instructions
- Constant fidgeting, climbing, wrestling, or other “problem” behavior
- Tendency to become frightened or overwhelmed in busy, crowded environments
If you think your child is struggling with sensory processing issues, contact your pediatrician or teacher for an evaluation. The STAR Institute also has a great symptoms checklist and a plethora of resources to help you learn about SPD and available treatments.