What is Sensory Processing Disorder

What is sensory processing disorder SPD?

Sensory Processing can be a confusing term. No two children are alike. No two cases are the same. What adds to the confusion is the different labels: sensory integration, sensory processing, sensory needs, sensory overload, sensory seeking.

We all have sensory needs but most of us can either wait or plan our day around our needs. For some children the way they process sensory information is a challenge. They are either over alert to a sensory experience or do not register the event until it has passed.  Emotional regulation and self-regulation are often affected.

Statistically 1:20 children have a diagnosis of SPD. That means at least 1 child from every classroom in every school struggles in some way to process sensory information throughout their day. Things can be often too loud, too bright or for some others not enough stimulation for a response.  Avoidance behaviours like running away, becoming frustrated or anger outbursts can happen. Equally sensory seeking behaviours like attention seeking, shouting out, teasing others can be the strategy the child uses.

Teaching a child how to respond correctly to and tolerate the sensory stimulation helps to them to control behaviours. Teaching others how to spot the signs of sensory overload and how to help the child often helps to minimise negative behaviours. Equally teaching a child who does not register sensory information how to stay alert helps them to engage in their education and learning.

Sensory Processing Disorder is often linked with other diagnosis. Its important to know what type of Sensory Processing Disorder your child has, if a professional diagnoses this.  Ask about whether it is sensory seeking or avoiding and which of the 7 sensory systems are affected.