What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

I remember the first time I heard SPD. I had no idea what it was and what it meant.

I then learned it was short form for Sensory Processing Disorder, formerly known as Sensory Integration Disorder. But what does all that mean and how does it affect my child? It is a condition where the brain and the nervous system has trouble processing the incoming stimuli. So pretty much everything coming at your child becomes too much for the person.

Like autism, SPD is a spectrum disorder so a person can be mildly affected all the way up to severe.

It may affect all aspects of their lives or only few things like smell or touch. It can affect any of the body's senses.

For us, it was the official diagnosis that Ryley had. She became very overwhelmed by her environment. Little did we know this caused her to be very sensitive, especially to food, touch and smell. But here is where she was different. Pain affected her very differently than most. Around age two we notices her refusing to open her one hand. So we opened it and discovered a large blister in the palm of her hand. It did not hurt her as far as we could tell and we had no idea where it came from or when.

SPD is not autism but for many kids they have both. There is no known cause and no explanation as to why many kids have both SPD and autism. Like autism it just happens and remember it is a spectrum disorder.

Sensory Processing Disorder has two different types and some children can have both.

Now I am going to list each type and some of the symptoms.

Type 1. Hypersensitivities to sensory input can include:

  • Extreme response to or fear of sudden high-pitched, loud or metallic noises such as toilet flushing, clanking silverware, smoke detectors, and so much more.
  • May notice or be distracted by background noises that do not affect others.
  • Fearful of surprise touch, avoiding hugs and cuddling even with people they are close to.
  • Fear or avoidance of crowds and prefers to stay away from others.
  • Does not enjoy tag and being at a place like a playground. They avoid swings or slides.
  • Fear of climbing or falling even when they are safe.
  • Poor balance and may fall often.

Type 2. Hyposensitivities to sensory input may include:

  • Constant need to touch people or textures even when inappropriate.
  • Does not understand personal space.
  • May seem clumsy or uncoordinated.
  • An extreme high tolerance or indifference to pain.
  • Does not understand their own strength.
  • May be fidgety and unable to stay still.
  • Enjoys movement based play live spinning and jumping.
  • Is a "thrill seeker" and can be dangerous at times.

Now that we know about Sensory Processing Disorder , what do we do?

Well first, we spoke to our doctor then we started therapy to help her become comfortable in their own body. It will never go away but with time and therapy the symptoms can get better.

Did you know that the same sensory tools used for autism can help a person with SPD? The Wiggle Seat can be amazing as it has 2 sides each with a different texture. These tools can be found on the Lakikid website.



is a 35-year-old mother of two. Jenn's daughter, Ryley was disagonsed with autism at the age of 4. Jenn is also the host of our weekly Facebook Live show, Ask an Autism Mom.

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