Sensory Processing Disorder: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a neurological condition. In this disorder brain is not able to process and respond properly the information received through five senses. These five senses are touch, sound, taste, smell, and sight. The condition can also affect mobility and balance. It is usually the disorder of children, but sometimes adults too can be affected.

In this disorder the information is perceived, but the response by the brain is exaggerated or subdued. Some people may become oversensitive to the environmental conditions while some people may not at all react to the perception of particular sense.

For example a person may respond extremely to a mild sound which for normal people is inoffensive. SPD is mostly observed in children suffering from developmental disorder such as autism and Asperger syndrome.

Causes Of Sensory Processing Disorder

The actual cause of sensory processing disorder is not known. Researchers are still not able to understand the exact underlying reason for its development. However, preliminary research suggests it has associated hereditary component. If that is the reason, than there is an anomaly in the genes of parents that may be responsible for its occurrence.

Aside from genetic involvement, environmental factors, prenatal problems in mother and complications associated with child birth are also implicated. More research is needed for further understanding of this condition. SPD is mostly observed in children suffering from developmental and behavioral problems such as autism.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sensory Processing Disorder

The symptoms of sensory processing disorder are often associated with those who have learning and behavioral problems. It may affect one sense or multiple senses. Senses such as hearing, touch, taste and smell are involved. While most children are fussy about what they like and dislike, a child with SPD will be extremely affected by his sensory perceptibility which eventually will cause interference in his daily life.

The response to a particular sense will either be exaggerated or it may be hypo-sensitive. Below are given some of the signs and symptoms of sensory processing disorders:

Hypersensitivity to senses:

  • The child may get distracted by noises or sounds in the background that others might not notice.
  • Severe hyper response to noises that for others may be normal.
  • Hypersensitive to touch. This may cause fear and anxiety on slightest touch or hugging.
  • The person may have fear in crowd as he becomes oversensitive to stand in close proximity to anyone.
  • Due to poor balance, he may frequently fall.

Hyposensitive response:

  • Person does not respond to pain. Or in other words is able to tolerate pain that a normal person may not be able to bear.
  • Movements are not coordinated.
  • The child is unable to understand the strength another child, and often harms other child.
  • Always fidgety and likes to play sports like jumping, running or outdoor sports.
  • Adults as well as children having sensory processing disorder often suffer from low self esteem and feel socially isolated.

How To Treat Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory processing disorder is mainly a children disorder and most children are equally efficient and intelligent as their normal peers. The only problem with them is their brain is wired in a different set up. If they are taught the way of adapting information and subsequently implement it according to their own needs, they are able to live a normal routine life.

After proper diagnosis, occupational therapy helps the child to adapt and process the responses appropriately in a meaningful and fun filled manner. Along with occupational therapists, involvement of parents and teacher is essential.