What is SPD?

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as Sensory Integration Disorder) is a brain condition that affects the brain’s ability to perceive and respond sensory information. To put it simply, it affects a child’s ability to act “normally” to touch, sounds, movement, and even temperature. According to The SPD Network, this can lead to behavior issues, difficulty with coordination, and several other developmental issues.

Those who suffer from SPD are hypersensitive (overresponsive to sensory stimulation) or hyposensitive (underresponsive to sensory experiences), or even both. While occupational therapy can treat it, it is often confused for autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Besides that, the SPD Network notes that at least one in twenty people in the general population may be affected by it.

Source: Pinteres
How can you spot SPD?

To help you understand better, here are the key signs and symptoms of SPD in children of different ages:

Infant/ Toddler:
  • Has problems eating.
  • Refused to go to anyone but the primary caretaker.
  • Has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Is extremely irritable when being dressed; or seems to be uncomfortable in clothes.
  • Rarely plays with toys, especially those requiring dexterity (which means skill in performing tasks, especially with the hands).
  • Has difficulty shifting focus from one object/activity to another.
  • Does not notice pain or is slow to respond when hurt.
  • Resists cuddling, arches back away from the person holding him or her.
  • Cannot calm self by sucking on a pacifier, looking at toys, or listening to my voice.
  • Has a “floppy” body, bumps into things and has poor balance.
  • Does little or no babbling, vocalizing.
  • Is easily startled.
  • Is extremely active and is constantly moving body/limbs or runs endlessly.
  • Seems to be delayed in crawling, standing, walking or running.
Source: Head in the Sand
Pre-School kids:
  • Has difficulty being toilet trained.
  • Is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
  • Is unaware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force/intensity.
  • Has difficulty learning and/or avoids performing fine motor tasks such as using crayons and fasteners on clothing.
  • Seems unsure how to move his/her body in space, is clumsy and awkward.
  • Has difficulty learning new motor tasks.
  • Is in constant motion.
  • Gets in everyone else’s space and/or touches everything around him.
  • Has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
  • Is intense, demanding or hard to calm and has difficulty with transitions.
  • Has sudden mood changes and temper tantrums that are unexpected.
  • Seems weak, slumps when sitting/standing; prefers sedentary activities.
  • You find it hard to understand your child’s speech.
  • Does not seem to understand verbal instructions.
Source: ParentMap
School-aged kids:
  • Is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
  • Is easily distracted in the classroom, often out of his/her seat, fidgety.
  • Is easily overwhelmed at the playground, during recess and in class.
  • Is slow to perform tasks.
  • Has difficulty performing or avoids fine motor tasks such as handwriting.
  • Appears clumsy and stumbles often, slouches in chair.
  • Craves rough housing, tackling/wrestling games.
  • Is slow to learn new activities.
  • Is in constant motion.
  • Has difficulty learning new motor tasks and prefers sedentary activities.
  • Has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
  • Gets stuck on tasks and has difficulty changing to another task.
  • Confuses similar sounding words, misinterprets questions or requests.
  • Has difficulty reading, especially aloud.
  • Stumbles over words; speech lacks fluency, and rhythm is hesitant.

For more info, visit The SPD Network’s website.

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