Sensory Processing Disorder, also known as SPD, is a disorder that affects the way a person’s mind and body processes sensory stimuli. While most people experience the 7 senses somewhat normally, people with SPD may over process or overreact to sensory information or under process or underreact to sensory information.
The severity to which the person over or underreacts to the sensory information affects the level of difficulty the person will have functioning in daily life situations, like going to school, trying new foods or going to crowded places.
Someone with SPD can experience difficulty with all, some or just one of the senses. The person can be over reactive to one of the senses and under reactive to another. Each person who experiences SPD is unique and has his or her own unique experiences with each of the 7 senses:
Children who experience SPD often have difficulty paying attention in the classroom, playing well with others and experiencing their world in a positive way. This is because simple things, like the sound of a vacuum, the texture of mashed potatoes, or the feeling of sitting on a swing can be so overwhelming to the child that the child feels threatened.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
Sensory Processing Disorder can be diagnosed by an Occupational Therapist (OT) through a sensory evaluation that measures how the child responds to the 7 senses. The evaluation will indicate which senses the child overreacts to, underreacts to and reacts normally to.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
Once the evaluation is complete, the OT will recommend occupational therapy to target the reaction issues that the child has. When the child’s responses to sensory stimuli aren’t accompanied by behavioral problems, OT can be sufficient to help treat the child’s condition. However, often times, behaviors have developed that may not be resolved through OT alone.
A mental health professional can work with a child who has been diagnosed with SPD and can work collaboratively with the child’s OT to help the child to manage the behaviors that accompany the reactivity levels. At Encompass Mental Health, we work closely with the child’s OT to learn what the child’s treatment goals are and to support the child in accomplishing those goals at home, at school and in other social situations.
We may work with the child, siblings, parents and teacher to help the child achieve the behavioral goals that complement the child’s sensory goals. Over time, the child learns how to control the body’s reactions to stimuli and manage the problematic behaviors that have accompanied the child’s exposure to certain senses for so long.
Contact us today to learn more about SPD therapy and how I can help.
For more detailed information on SPD, check out one of our previous blogs that explains what a child experiences with SPD.