Sensory Processing Disorder

"Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a complex neurological condition that impairs the functional skills of 1 in 20 children." 

                                                          SPD Australia

What is SPD?

Sensory Processing Disorder is when the brain filters, organises and processes information taken in through the senses differently to what is typically expected.  This causes the reaction in a person with SPD to not be as expected. 

Some children with SPD are labelled as "the naughty child", "the fidgeter" or "the child that can't keep still".  Other children who have SPD, but can go under the radar, are known as "the floppy child" or "the child with low energy".

What are our senses?

There are the 5 senses that we are all know - Olfactory (Smell); Auditory (Hearing); Gustatory (Taste); Tactile (Touch); and Visual (Sight).

Plus there are another 3 internal senses - Proprioception (Body awareness); Vestibular (Balance) and Interoception (Internal sense that tells you if you are hungry, need to go to the toilet or if you are feeling hot or cold)  

Some Common Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Overreacts to loud noises, light touch, or sudden movement - sometimes resulting in a meltdown
  • Easily distracted, finds it difficult to concentrate
  • Picky eater - prefers crunchy or chewy food
  • Needs routine and doesn't cope well with changes 
  • Has trouble transitioning between activities
  • Chews or sucks on clothing or objects such as pencils or toys
  • Always on the go - loves climbing, jumping, spinning around
  • Difficulty going to sleep at night or fall asleep very easily at inappropriate times like at the dinner table.
  • Low energy 
  • Doesn't like the feel of tags on their clothing
  • Doesn't realise when they are hungry or need to go to the toilet.

We all have days where we are overwhelmed and don't cope well with information that we take in through our senses. If however any of the above is affecting the way a child copes with everyday life then seeking a diagnosis from a professional such as a Paediatrician or Occupational Therapist  may be your next step.

Strategies

Strategies that help children with Sensory Processing Disorder involve helping to provide the sensory input they need to calm their central nervous system.  In particular activities that use their proprioceptive and vestibular senses can be very powerful.  

Proprioceptive sensory receptors are located within the inner ear, joints and muscles.  These receptors send information to the brain through the central nervous system to let the brain know where the body is in space.  Activities that involve pulling, pushing or stretching muscles and joints can provide a calming affect on the child.   

Vestibular receptors are located in the semicircular canals of the inner ear and detect rotational movement.  Gentle back and forth movement are calming such as rocking, swaying and swinging.  While spinning round and round is alerting. 

There are so many wonderful activities that are easy to integrate into a child's life that help make their day go smoother.  I have created a downloadable PDF so that you can print it out.  There are activities for school that teachers can implement and for home.     

35 Fun Activities to help calm your child

Staying calm and regulated can help all children get through their day but it is particularly important to a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. Here are 35 fun activities that can be used in the classroom and at home.

CHILDREN WHO LEARN DIFFERENTLY

Understanding your child and how they learn, whether you are struggling with challenging behaviour or learning difficulties.

HOW 'MOTHERHOOD & YOU' CAN HELP

Balancing the Yin energy in your family resulting in a deeper understanding and connection with  your child.

ORGANISATION & YOU

The key to a happier family life starts with feeling good about yourself and being organised.

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20 Fun Activities to help calm your child

Download our free guide to help make mornings, afternoons or school days easier for you and your child.  These activities are easy to implement and will help your day go smoother.