Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing refers to how information is relayed from our sensory receptors to our nervous system and organized for an individual to make sense of their environment and functionally adapt to various situations. When this information is not properly understood or interpreted, dysfunction can occur. For many children, dysfunctional responses can take the form of meltdowns or anxiety surrounding certain situations. 

​Overview of the Senses:

  • ​Sight

    • Allows the child to see their environment and take in information from their visual system. This area not only includes acuity (being able to see 20/20) but how the eyes move together, how the child recognizes patterns/shapes, or how the child interprets what they see. 
  • Touch

    • Involves what the child feels via receptors within their skin. Includes light touch (such as the feeling of clothing, socks, or undergarment) as well as deep pressure (such as the feeling from hugs or squeezes). 
  • Hearing

    • Provides information about what sounds are occurring around a child. Includes low and high frequencies.
  • Smell

    • Provides information about the smells in the child's surroundings.  
  • Taste

    • Relays what a child tastes on their tongue. Includes salty, bitter, sweet, savory, and sour.
  • Movement (Vestibular)

    • Movement of fluid in the inner ear sends messages to the brain regarding the relative position of the head to the body as well as how fast it is moving. 
  • Body Awareness (Proprioception)

    • Receptors located within joint spaces transmit information about where each joint is in space relative to one another without relying on visual confirmation. For example, a child can successfully clear stairs without constantly looking at their feet due the information they receive via their proprioceptive sense. 

Red Flags:

  • Sight

    • Becomes easily overwhelmed by a busy visual environment (such as scattered puzzle pieces)
    • Has difficulty finding objects from a busy pile
  • Touch

    • Does not like getting hands or skin dirty or messy
    • Has poor awareness of dirty face or hands, has a tendency to touch everything
    • Is irritated by the feeling of certain fabrics or textures
  • Hearing

    • Covers their ears frequently and is fearful of particular noises
    • Has difficulty distinguishing certain sounds, may not respond to their name when called
  • Smell

    • Becomes distraught when presented with the smell of specific objects or foods
  • Taste

    • Gags at the taste of certain foods
    • Is an extremely picky eater
  • Movement

    • Is constantly in motion, has a hard time "sitting still" 
    • Expresses fear or hesitation with movement, prefers to keep their feet/body close to the ground
  • Body Awareness

    • Constantly bumping into objects or people
    • Holds utensils in an awkward or inefficient manner