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What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

 

 

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In order to understand SPD , we need to understand the purpose of our senses.  Our senses allow us to experience and respond to our environment.  To experience a sunset we look at it.  If we smell smoke we respond by getting out of the building.  When our senses are working properly together they protect us and allow us to enjoy our surroundings.  The five senses most of us are familiar with are:

  • Vision -visual perception

  • Hearing - auditory perception

  • Touch - tactile perception

  • Smell – olfactory perception

  • Taste – oral perception

Two senses we may not be familiar with are:

These seven senses work together to help us understand and maneuver within our environment.  For example to open a door:

  • We look at it- visual perception. 

  • We place our hand on the doorknob- visual and tactile perception. 

  • We squeeze the doorknob (not to hard or to soft) and turn it- tactile, proprioceptive perception.

  • We pull open the door (not to hard or to soft) – vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, and tactile perception. 

  • (If the door has a squeaky hinge we hear that as we are opening it – auditory perception.)

  • We walk through the doorway, stepping over the door jam- visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive perception.

Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition that causes a person’s body to misinterpret sensory information they receive from the environment.  One or more of a person’s senses may be over or under reactive to sensory information.  Because their senses are not working properly together, a person with SPD has difficulty responding to their environment effectively.  If the brain is receiving inaccurate sensory information when walking through a door someone may:

  • Bump into the door.

  • Slam the door.

  • Hit their self with the door.

  • Trip or bang into the doorway as they walk through.

  • Be unable to open the door.

If you suspect your child may have sensory processing dysfunction it is essential that you have them evaluated by an Occupational Therapist trained in sensory processing disorder.  They will help you to start Sensory Integration Therapy.

A close working relationship with an occupational therapist (OT) is essential to administering an effective program.  A child’s therapist will have good ideas for adapting an activity or challenging a child appropriately.  They will be aware of behaviors and signals to watch for with a child.  They can evaluate progress and give suggestions to keep a child progressing.

For a comprehensive questionnaire on SPD:

http://www.spdnetwork.org/aboutspd/questionnaire.html

To find a knowledgeable Occupational Therapist contact the American Occupational Therapist Association:

http://www.aota.org

 

 

 

  

 

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