What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?
SPD is anything that interferes with our ability to take in information through our senses, process that information, and then respond to it. Any of the senses can be affected: hearing, sight, touch, taste, smell, vestibular (the sense of movement), or proprioceptive (interpreting where the body is in space).
Difficulties with any part of the sensory processing systems can lead to difficulties with self-regulation or self-control, poor motor planning, and/or behaviors such as tantrums, hyperactivity, or “shutting down.”
Most children have varying degrees of sensory responsiveness. A more serious sensory disorder may be present if your child:
- Is not reaching typical developmental milestones such as walking or talking
- Has trouble with coordination and balance
- Overreacts (or under-reacts) to her surroundings or to touch
- Is overly rigid and has a hard time coping with change
How can I help my child with SPD?
Occupational, physical, and speech therapists use many methods to treat the sensory system(s) affected and whether the system is oversensitive or under-sensitive. They might use different types of music, lighting, movement, “heavy work” (where the child uses her whole body to push, pull, or lift, or her mouth to chew or blow, or her hands to squeeze or pinch), deep pressure, or heavy touch to alert a child’s senses or calm them. Calming an oversensitive child or alerting an under-sensitive one allows her to better integrate the stimuli she is getting from the environment. It is then easier for the child to focus on therapy goals and the learning process.
Therapists at Community Therapy Services are trained in SPD and can answer your questions if you suspect your child may need help in this area. Call us at 630-444-0077 to talk with a therapist, or ask to speak to client support specialist to schedule an appointment.