- What is sensory processing disorder and how can I help my child?
- Causes, symptoms, and treatment of SPD
- Sensory processing disorder (SPD) kids: How they are different
- You know sensory processing disorder exists, so why don’t they?
- What to do when your sensory sensitive child has a meltdown
- Challenges your sensory sensitive child will face at school
- Does a weighted blanket help with sensory issues?
- Can a child outgrow SPD?
New research on sensory processing disorder is opening doors to new treatments as we begin to have a better understanding of the causes and symptoms that are a part of this disorder. Understanding the underlying challenges and the resulting behaviors will help you to help your child with SPD navigate life. What actually causes this disorder and how can we treat it?
It’s not just ADHD and autistic kids who have SPD (Tiffany Cook)
Sensory processing disorder (SPD) occurs when signals from our senses are not processed properly by the brain and nervous system. That is why children with SPD tend to be oversensitive to certain environmental conditions such as loud noises or large crowds. Until recently, SPD was viewed as a companion disorder to certain neurological disorders such as ADHD or autism, which meant it did not receive the specialized attention that ADHD or autism receives.
However, it was noted that not all children who have SPD have a neurological disorder, so researchers went to work trying to find a possible explanation. Recently, a study identified without question that children with SPD have an abnormal white matter tract in the brain, which makes it a neuro-anatomically distinct disorder. Symptoms can vary among individual children, but most can be described as an oversensitivity to environmental influences in the following areas: tactile, auditory, visual, spatial, and oral. Treatment includes occupational therapy, desensitization, weighted blankets, compression vests, and alternative therapies such as brain balance and music.
Genes and environment could be factors in SPD (Kereth Harris)
The causes of sensory processing disorder are not yet fully understood. It is the subject of many research projects currently. Slowly, evidence is emerging that SPD may be genetic. There is also evidence to say environmental factors can contribute to it.
Don’t beat yourself up. You cannot change the diagnosis, but you can work towards treating SPD. Unfortunately there is no magic pill, instead therapy is used to support children in becoming more tolerant of their surroundings. Your role in this process is critical.
There are a wide range of symptoms of SPD (Lesley Scott)
It has been shown that there are underlying neurological (brain) differences in people with SPD. These differences may be due to an inherited gene or possibly due to prenatal or birth complications. In some cases, it is thought that environmental factors may trigger SPD.
Symptoms may include: eating difficulties, sleep problems (too much or not enough), irritability when dressed in certain clothes, difficulty with fine motor dexterity, inability to self-calm after a certain age, poor balance and clumsiness, easily startled, extremely (over)active, and delays with developmental motor milestones. Treatment often involves working with an occupational therapist in calming and retraining the senses. Therapists may use a sensory integration approach to make dealing with sensory challenges easier.
There are a wide range of therapies for SPD (Amanda Whittington)
Sensory processing disorder occurs when the brain cannot assimilate sensory information correctly. The brain may interpret a soft brush against the skin as painful. Or perhaps something that is painful is not felt at all. This creates a collection of symptoms that cause the patient to be dysregulated, uncoordinated, uncomfortable, anxious, and even depressed.
Little is known about the exact cause of SPD, but new studies are showing differences in brain matter between people with SPD and people without. Treatments for SPD involve occupational, physical, feeding, and behavioral therapies to strengthen brain connections, improve coordination and muscle control, and help meet the sensory needs of the patient. A sensory diet may be employed to help the patient use socially acceptable activities or devices to meet their unique sensory needs such as heavy work, weighted vests or blankets, and brushing techniques.