Does your child struggle to handle change?
Do they throw constant tantrums?
Do they find it intolerable to wear certain types of clothing?
Are they constantly touching all of the items in their environment, even when asked not to?
If so, these are all signs that your child may have sensory processing disorder.
Sensory processing disorder is a condition that is characterized by an extreme reaction, or lack of reaction, to particular stimuli.
The good news is that your local pediatric occupational therapist can help teach your child to process stimulation and cope accordingly.
If your child is diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder, consider seeking out sensory processing disorder treatment centers near me.
But for now, let’s take a closer look at how to recognize the signs of sensory processing disorder in your child.
We talked about three already, but there are many more.
What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is a neurological condition that interferes with your body’s ability to interpret sensory messages from the brain.
This in turn makes it difficult for your brain to convert those messages into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.
In other words, children with sensory processing disorder will find it difficult to understand and react to information coming from their senses.
Sometimes only one sense is impacted by this condition, and other times many senses are affected.
Sensory processing disorder also makes it difficult to filter out and ignore unimportant sensory information.
An example of this is the noise of cars humming along the streets while you’re walking on the sidewalk, or the sound of the air conditioning running in the house.
For most of us, it’s easy for the brain to filter that background noise out so we can focus on the more important things happening around us.
However, for children with sensory processing disorder, these background noises can create feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety.
How To Tell If Your Child Has Sensory Processing Disorder?
There are many different ways to tell if your child has sensory processing disorder.
This is because of the wide number of senses it can affect, which includes:
- Gross motor skills control
- Balance and coordination
- Interoception, which are sensations from inside your body like hunger
Now, it’s possible for your child to show signs of sensory processing disorder from the time they’re a baby.
They may be a particularly fussy baby, and throw tantrums or demonstrate clear anxiety as they grow.
However, it only becomes an issue when your child’s symptoms interfere with their quality of life.
And what are these symptoms?
Let’s take a look.
They Recoil At Loud Noises
If your child’s hearing is affected by sensory processing disorder, you might notice that they recoil at loud noises.
Now, of course, if your child is young and exposed to fireworks or bright lights and loud music at a concert, this reaction is normal.
It’s a sign of sensory processing disorder if you notice they consistently recoil from everyday loud noises like a toilet flushing, a vacuum running, or your cellphone ringing.
They’re Unresponsive When You Call To Them
Like we said before, your child can also be under responsive to the sensory stimulation that is affected by their condition.
This happens because their nervous system doesn’t know when to pay attention or when to ignore stimuli.
An example of this is if they’re unresponsive when you call their name.
Now, the only thing to remember is that if this is the only sign that you notice, it could equally be the result of their being hard of hearing.
They’re Unresponsive To Physical Stimuli
Another sign that they might have sensory processing disorder is if you notice that they are unresponsive to physical stimuli.
This can include anything from heat to cold, and even pain.
A great example of this is if you notice that your child doesn’t react when they touch or hold an ice cube or if they take a large tumble and do not seem fazed at all.
They Recoil When Touched
If you notice that your child consistently recoils when touched, it’s possible that this is an over responsive sign of sensory processing disorder.
Remember, with this condition, your child’s brain has trouble processing physical sensations and so it can be very overwhelming and stressful when you touch them.
This can cause developmental delays in their social skills.
However, that can be rectified with social skills and peer interaction therapy, which tends to be more effective with early intervention so it’s a good idea to book an appointment sooner than later.
This is especially the case if your child’s sensory processing disorder is linked with autism spectrum disorder.
Because these two disorders often overlap, pediatric therapy treatments for autism spectrum disorder also tends to overlap with sensory processing disorder treatment.
They’re Bothered By The Tag In Their Clothes
Another example that can trigger a sensory overload is a tag in your child’s clothes.
The different texture of the tag and the way it sits against their skin can be impossible to ignore for a child with sensory processing disorder.
At this stage, they don’t have the ability to ignore any physical sensation and so a tag on their clothes can trigger a meltdown.
They Want To Get Away From Strong Scents
Smell is another sense that can be affected by sensory processing disorder.
Your child may be very sensitive to strong scents and consistently avoid or run from them.
This can include harsh chemical smells like household cleaners, artificial scents like perfumes or air fresheners, or even strong cooking smells like garlic or onions.
They’re Exceptionally Clumsy
If your child is exceptionally clumsy, it’s possible they have sensory processing disorder affecting their balance and coordination.
This happens because their brain doesn’t interpret changes in their posture or balance.
When they slip, they don’t try to catch themselves because their brain hasn’t realized that they’re falling yet.
If this is the case, your child is probably also uncoordinated because their brain is not exactly aware of where their limbs are in space due to this condition.
They Hate Getting Ready For Bed
Children with sensory processing disorder can also be incredibly resistant to their bedtime routine.
This is because the acts of brushing their teeth, combing their hair and changing clothes can be a massive sensory overload for them.
Each of these activities is a trigger that can overstimulate a child with sensory processing disorder.
At the same time, these are obviously things that should not be avoided.
If your child is struggling with such things, self care skills pediatric therapy can help.
They’re Exceptionally Picky Eaters
Finally, taste is another sense that can be affected by sensory processing disorder.
If your child is an exceptionally picky eater, it can be sign that they have this condition.
This might especially be the case if you notice it’s not just taste, but texture that your child is extremely sensitive to.
Their reaction to a surprising texture can range from refusing to eat the food, to immediately vomiting based on the severity of their overstimulation.
Pediatric Occupational Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder
Pediatric occupational therapy is a great resource to help your child learn to cope with their sensory processing disorder.
After a thorough evaluation, your pediatric occupational therapist will understand the type of stimuli that your child is sensitive to.
Then, they can create a treatment plan to help teach your child how to process stimulation and how to cope appropriately when they start to feel over stimulated.
These coping mechanisms are helpful tools that your child can return to whenever faced with a sensory overload.
By slowly introducing activities that are sensitive to your child, your pediatric occupational therapist can expand their range of acceptable sensations.
This is generally referred to as a sensory integration approach.
The goal is for your child to be equipped to function easily at home, and at school.
Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today
You can see how important pediatric occupational therapy is to help your child cope with their sensory processing disorder.
The world can be an overwhelming place if your brain isn’t able to distinguish and interpret stimuli.
Starting occupational therapy as soon as you suspect your child has sensory processing disorder will give them the tools to make sense of their senses, and set them up for success in school.
Book your appointment with Little Feet Pediatric Therapy today to schedule an evaluation.
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Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.