Sensory processing disorder (also known as SPD or sensory integration dysfunction) is a condition where the brain has problems organising information from the senses. The brain of a child with SPD cannot tune out unnecessary information such as noise or movement from a fan, or music or talking from classmates. The brain processes all information with importance, so that it can be overwhelmed with information and unable to respond or organise it.

The disorder can be either over sensitivity, or under sensitivity, or a combination of both. There is no known cause of SPD but it could be genetic. While most acute in childhood, SPD can persist into adulthood and create problems from school through to workplaces.

Symptoms of SPD Hypersensitivity

-Can be hypersensitive to tiny irritations such as clothing tags, or ticking clocks.

-They may dislike being touched even by familiar adults.

-May be fearful in crowds

-May be sensitive to perceived ‘dangerous’ situations such as playground equipment or being up high, even if there is no danger.

-May be clumsy

-Suffer from motion sickness in vehicles

-Waking up easily at night, problems sleeping due to sensory overload

Symptoms of SPD Hyposensitivity

Conversely, the opposite may be true:

-High tolerance to pain

-Lack of sensitivity to their surroundings.

-Apparent  deafness even when tested

-Impulsiveness, seeking out extreme situations

Is there any therapy for SPD?

There are small but positive gains that can be made with a variety of treatments. Hyper-sensitive children may be taught techniques to deal with challenging situations.