Special Needs: What is SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)

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Special Needs SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)

I am NOT a professional, this will NOT medically diagnose your child! October is SPD Awareness month. This is another post in my “Special Needs” series. My first post was on Gifted Children and you can catch up on gifted awareness there.

What is a Sensory Processing Disorder? (AKA- SPD or Sensory Disintegration Dysfunction)

SPD is a neurological disorder that causes abnormalities in processing information from the five senses (touch, auditory, taste, olfactory, vision), the sense of movement, or sense of position.
Children with SPD are either highly OVER stimulated, or UNDER stimulated. This is a relatively new disease and not all doctors will diagnose it as such. Many people treat it as a behavioral problem which is NOT the case. Children who are overstimulated may have severe avoidances to things like tags in their clothing, being touched by others, or even sitting too close to another person. Children with a low stimulative response need MORE stimulating experiences than others might. For example, many of these children use weighted blankets (blankets specially made with weights in them so that they experience heavier pressure of touch), crash into walls as small children simply for the need to receive a higher stimulating experience, or like exceptionally loud noises. There is argument that some of the well-known “daredevils” who do amazing tricks required such thrilling feats due to the necessity for more stimulating responses to their neurological systems.

Other Disorders which Overlap with SPD

Autism– MANY do not like to be touched and are easily overstimulated and have SPD as well
Symptoms of SPD
There is a HUGE checklist of symptoms HERE that you can check out but I’ve listed just a couple below:
Hypersensitivity to Touch: avoids touching certain textures of material
:avoids/dislikes/aversive to “messy play”, i.e., sand, mud, water, glue, glitter, playdoh, slime, shaving cream/funny foam etc.
:distressed by clothes rubbing on skin
Hyposensitivity to Touch: is not aware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force or intensity
:may crave touch, needs to touch everything and everyone
:is not bothered by injuries, like cuts and bruises, and shows no distress with shots
Hypersensitivity to Movement: avoids/dislikes playground equipment; i.e., swings, ladders, slides, or merry-go-rounds
:avoids/dislikes elevators and escalators
Hyposensitivity to Movement:
:craves fast, spinning, and/or intense movement experiences
:is a “thrill-seeker”; dangerous at times
:always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions

Is there a CURE for SPD?

No, there is no cure. But early intervention and therapy helps a child with SPD make TREMENDOUS progress! A child with SPD can see a therapist who will help them learn how to touch different textures, try new things, become used to different stimuli, and help them cope with their various issues.
Want to learn more about SPD? Head over to the SPD Foundation’s website to learn more!

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