Are My Baby’s Sensory Skills Typical?

CME WebsitesChild Development

Sensory Processing Disorder

A child with this neurological disorder (also called sensory integration dysfunction) will have difficulty processing information from the five senses: vision auditory, touch, taste and smell.

In addition, this disorder can cause problems with a child’s sense of movement and/or the positional sense, called proprioception. The child can sense the information normally, (for example, he can hear), but the information is processed differently in the brain. This can cause distress or confusion.

Sensory processing disorder can exist alone or it can exist with other neurological conditions, such as autism, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis and others.

What are the symptoms?

Children can be born either hypersensitive or hyposensitive to varying degrees and may have trouble with one of the senses, a few senses, or all of them.

How is sensory processing disorder diagnosed?

Unlike many neurological problems that require validation by a licensed psychiatrist or physician, this condition is most often diagnosed by an occupational therapist. It is increasingly being diagnosed by developmental pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, and child psychologists.

What is the treatment?

An occupational therapist will work with your child to focus on increasing your child’s ability to tolerate a variety of sensory experiences to create the ‘just right’ fit for your child. In addition, deep pressure is often calming for children who have sensory dysfunctions.

It is recommended that therapists use a variety of tactile materials, a quiet, subdued voice, and slow, linear movements, tailoring the approach to the child’s unique sensory needs. The children are engaged in therapy as play which may include activities such as: finger painting, using Play-Doh type modeling clay, swinging, playing in bins of rice or water, and climbing.