What are the Symptoms of a Sensory Processing Disorder?

CME WebsitesChild Development, Special Needs Diagnoses

A child with this neurological disorder, also called Sensory Integration Dysfunction, experiences difficulty processing information from the five senses vision, auditory, touch, taste, and smell.

In addition, Sensory Processing 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 or she can hear), but the information is processed differently in the brain. This can result in distress or confusion.

This condition can exist alone or it can exist with other neurological conditions, such as autism, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourettes syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and others.

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms

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

Examples of hypersensitivity include:

  • Feeling pain from clothing rubbing against skin
  • An inability to tolerate normal lighting in a room
  • A dislike of being touched (especially light touch)
  • Discomfort when one looks directly into the eyes of another person

Hyposensitivity is characterized by an unusually high tolerance for environmental stimuli.

  •  Your child might appear restless and seek sensory stimulation

Diagnosing Sensory Processing Disorder

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.

Treatment of Sensory Processing Disorder

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, climbing, etc.