Sensory Processing Disorder, also referred to as SPD, is a common but underdiagnosed condition. Those who deal with SPD are unable to perceive accurate information from the senses. The signals that are transmitted to the brain whenever one of the senses is used is blocked or delayed before arriving at its destination. People who have sensory processing disorder, therefore, may have very unusual responses to common stimuli.
The symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder vary greatly from person to person, which makes the condition difficult to appropriately diagnose. Combined with the fact that many affected by SPD may also present autism, OCD, and other similar condition symptoms, the disorder is often overlooked completely. Finding a qualified physician who is familiar with the condition is key to proper diagnosis.
People, particularly children, who have SPD will either overreact or underreact to everyday sensory stimuli. For instance, a child who avoids loud noises may cover their ears, scream, or appear terrified when they encounter fire truck sirens. Those who seek loud noises may turn the television volume up to a point no one else can stand it, but the child obviously love it. The tricky part about Sensory Processing Disorder is that one person can be a seeker and an avoider to different senses. The same person may seek visual stimulation, such as flashing lights, while avoiding loud noises.
Also, motor skills and balance are greatly affected, with a child either constantly avoiding even the least frightening of movements, such as jumping. Or the child may seek to do everything under the sun to experience wild movement, such as climbing dangerously high, standing on their heads and preferring to hang upside down.
The causes of Sensory Processing Disorder are widely disputed. It’s thought that the condition is primarily hereditary. However, it’s also thought that certain factors, such as high stress, while the child is in utero significantly impacts sensory processing.
There is no cure for Sensory Processing Disorder. However, there are treatments available to teach those dealing with it how to appropriately handle and organize sensory perceptions. Occupational therapy is a wonderful tool. Also, parental education on the behaviors that may be the first indication of an issue is imperative to successfully helping a child with SPD. Sometimes, medication may help control some of the symptoms, but is not always necessary.
Sensory Processing Disorder is a common, though underdiagnosed, condition that many people deal with daily. Adults with SPD typically learn to live with it over time, but children often present severe symptoms making school, playgrounds and even the simplest of childhood pleasures difficult to deal without meltdowns. Although the actual cause is speculated and there is no cure, there have proven to be many successful treatment options for those with Sensory Processing Disorder.