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What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

As toddler parents, we are used to irrational tantrums. Just the other day, my child threw himself on the floor screaming because his milk was in the wrong cup. You know, the one with the orange lid, not the yellow lid. And don’t get me started if I try to put the red shoes with the straps on instead of the blue shoes with the velcro. MELT. DOWN. CENTRAL.

It’s normal toddler behavior of testing boundaries, exercising independence, and self-discovery.

But some parents notice that their toddler takes it to a different level of preference. Your toddler screams when her face is splashed with water or vomits when she hears the vacuum running. He screams over his clothes and every meal, changing, bath, and car ride is a challenge.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively. -SPD Foundation

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    Click through to learn about Sensory Processing Disorder.
  • What is SPD? 2 of 15
    What is SPD?
    We all process senses, from hearing the tapping of computer keys to tasting chicken pot pie. Our nervous system tells the brain how to react properly to these senses. In SPD, the nervous system doesn't organize the senses properly.
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • Is SPD a real thing? 3 of 15
    Is SPD a real thing?
    While it is not yet widly recognized as a medical diagnosis, it is a real neurological disorder. While you may have sesnory preferences for/against certain tastes/sounds/smells/etc, true SPD affects daily functions.
    Source: sensory-processing-disorder.com
    Source: WebMD
  • Is SPD the same as autism? 4 of 15
    Is SPD the same as autism?
    No, it is not. They are completely different disorders. While 75% of children on the autism spectrum show signs of SPD, the same is not true in reverse.
    Buy here: SPD Foundation
  • What causes SPD? 5 of 15
    What causes SPD?
    Right now there is no known cause, although genetics and environment tend to be key players.
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • Does it only affect children? 6 of 15
    Does it only affect children?
    No! One in twenty people may be affected by SPD, ranging from children to adults.
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • Symptoms: It’s all too much 7 of 15
    Symptoms: It's all too much
    Children with SPD tend to be overly sensitive to sound, smell, and light. They may trip more often and run into things and seem to lack depth perception. They may resist physical interaction or throw tantrums that are more frequent or last longer than normal.
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • Sytmptoms: Some are unresponsive 8 of 15
    Sytmptoms: Some are unresponsive
    Some children with SPD may be on the other end of the spectrum - failing to respond to heat, cold, even pain.
    Source: WebMD
  • It’s a full spectrum. 9 of 15
    It's a full spectrum.
    For some children, it affects one sense, such as hearing. For others, it affects all senses.
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • Red flags in infants 10 of 15
    Red flags in infants
    Problems eating or sleeping
    extreme stranger danger
    Irritable when being dressed
    Resists cuddling, arches away when held
    Cannot self soothe
    motor delays
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • Red flags in toddlers 11 of 15
    Red flags in toddlers
    Over-sensitive to touch, noises, smells
    Difficulty dressing, eating, sleeping, and/or toilet training
    poor motor skills
    lack of understanding perosnal space
    In constant motion
    Frequent or long temper tantrums
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • Who diagnosis SPD? 12 of 15
    Who diagnosis SPD?
    A pediatrician may refer you to a specialist or therapist, who will conduct parent surveys and in-person evaluations of the child.
  • What can you do for a child with SPD? 13 of 15
    What can you do for a child with SPD?
    Occupational therapy with sensory integration is the preferred treatment for SPD. Listening therapy is another form that uses specific sounds to stimulate the brain into proper function.
    Source: SPD Foundation
  • What is therapy like? 14 of 15
    What is therapy like?
    Occupational therapy for SPD is called "sensory integration" and is a play-method that provides exposure for the senses and an opportunity to teach proper reactions in order to better function.
    Source: WebMD
  • What does this mean for my baby? 15 of 15
    What does this mean for my baby?
    It just means therapy and understanding. Your baby is just as smart and perfect as the "normal" one beside her in preschool.
    Source: SPD Foundation

photos: istockphoto

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