How to Support Olfactory Discrimination Disorder

Olfactory discrimination disorder affects one’s ability to detect, interpret, and recognize smells, including chemical or hazardous odors. It is one of the eight subtypes of Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD) and one of many manifestations of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Learn more about SPD and its subtypes here.

See below for some ways to identify and support discrimination challenges.

Those with Olfactory Discrimination Disorder May:

  • Be unable to recognize familiar or very common smells.
  • Accidentally eat spoiled food or nonedible, potentially harmful substances.
  • Be unable to detect hazardous chemical or burning odors. However, they might be vaguely aware that something is wrong.

How to Support Olfactory Discrimination Disorders:

  • Practice reading and understanding expiration dates, food labels, and all kinds of household packaging. This will help your child avoid spoiled food and other harmful substances.
  • Practice observing the way others react when smelling a dangerous or unpleasant odor. Teach your child to use these reactions to identify potentially harmful substances.

Keep in mind that no two children are exactly alike, and most people exhibit both seeking and avoiding behaviors from time to time. If you think your child might be suffering from sensory processing issues, you should seek a professional assessment. The STAR Institute’s Treatment Directory is a great resource that can help you find therapists, doctors, and community resources in your area.

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