Myth #: Kids With Sensory Processing Issues Are Sensitive To Everything
Fact: There are two types of sensory processing issues, and many kids experience a mix of the two. Some kids are oversensitive to the information that comes in through their senses. This can lead to them avoiding certain noises or sensations because theyre too overwhelming.
But kids can also be undersensitive . This causes kids to be sensory-seekingthey look for more sensory stimulation. These are kids who may show little or no reaction to heat, cold, pain, and other sensations. That can be scary for parents.
Attentional Shift Or Switch
Conflicting findings have also been reported for auditory MMN amplitudes. Several groups have found increased MMN amplitude in samples of adults and children with AS and ASD , while in the passive condition, Dunn and colleagues, found reduced MMN amplitudes . Attention shifting for individuals with autism has received less focus in the visual and somatosensory domains, perhaps related to the intense interest in the auditory domain as the gateway for understanding the language and communication deficits that are central to autism spectrum disorders. When Kemner and colleagues assessed the role of visual attention using an oddball paradigm with both a passive condition and an active counting task, they found that children with autism did not differ from controls in the passive condition, but they did show a larger response to the deviant stimuli during the active task condition .
Theres A Lot Of Sensory Information To Process
This video shows the sheer amount of sensory inputs in our environment every day.; It considers just how much information someone with ASD and sensory processing disorder has to process as they move through a normal day.; Its useful to think about your childs day and what sensory inputs they are experiencing.; We explore sensory overload in more depth here.
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What Might The Sensory Processing Challenges In Autism Feel Like
Difficulties with sensory processing can affect every part of a childs or adults life.; This is because our bodies are constantly receiving sensory messages.
Close your eyes for a minute and just think about all of the sensory input you are experiencing.
Do you hear any sounds or smell and scents? Can you feel what you are sitting on? Does your body know whether you are sitting up or lying down?
What about micro sensations? How do; your clothes feel against your skin? What about your watch or jewellery? Can you sense the seams of your socks or tights? How is the faint tick of a clock sound, or the flicker of a light affecting you?
What Are The Types Of Sensory Processing Disorders
There are three broad categories of sensory processing disorders:
Sometimes people ask, what are the patterns of sensory processing disorders?
Three main patterns of sensory processing disorders:
However, using just these three patterns oversimplifies things. It is important to know that a sensory disorder is not easily classified into just these three patterns.;
All of the different sensory disorders can be very confusing. Your senses are complex.;
Occupational therapists study for many years to understand the senses, the sensory systems, and related disorders.
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The Effect Of Smd On An Autistic Childs Daily Life
Autism affects communication, social interaction and daily living. Sensory modulation or how we react to sensory stimuli may influence all these factors too.
A study provides preliminary evidence that children with severe SMD may have different physiological activity and that the behavioral way in which SMD manifests may influence a childs ability to engage in social, communication and daily living situations.
Both conditions may negatively affect a childs life. Parents with children on the spectrum often advocate for studies to show how addressing sensory difficulties may influence severity of symptoms associated with autism. Parents also share that changing or fixing the world to make it a softer sensory environment would mean society can stop with their attempts to fix autistic childrenin the right circumstances many on the spectrum would thrive.
Do Measures Of Sensory Processing And Attention Differ Between Groups
Table 2 displays the means and standard deviations for the seven subscales of the SSP for the three groups: TD children, children with SPD, and children with ASD. Children with SPD had the lowest means among the groups, followed by children with ASD, indicating that children with SPD had more sensory problems than children with ASD . Across all participants, age did not significantly correlate with the SSP domains or the TEA-Ch attention categories . About 67% of the TD children had typical sensory performance, while 25% scored as probable difference and 8.3% scored as having a definite difference. For the SPD group, 90.5% scored as having a definite difference while two participants scored as having a probable difference. As expected, no SPD participants scored as having typical performance. For the ASD group, 70.8% scored as having definite difference and 25% as probable difference, and one participant scored as being in the typical performance category.
Table 2. Descriptive statistics and group differences on the Short Sensory Profile and the Test of Everyday Attention for Children .
Table 3. MANOVA statistics and post hoc Tukeys HSD depicting group differences on the Short Sensory Profile and the Test of Everyday Attention for Children .
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Myth #: Theres No Such Thing As Sensory Processing Issues
Fact: Doctors and other specialists can see the challenges these issues cause. Its true theres no formal diagnosis of sensory processing issues. And theres debate over the terms sensory processing disorder and sensory integration disorder. But that doesnt mean these struggles arent real. In fact, occupational therapists often create specific treatment plans for sensory challenges.
Sensory Processing Issues Fact Sheet
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How Do I Help A Child Or Adult With A Sensory Processing Disorder
A common treatment for a sensory processing disorder is occupational therapy.; An occupational therapist will fully assess you or your child and develop a treatment plan.; The occupational therapist needs to figure out what sub-type of a sensory disorder is present.; Many occupational therapists use a special treatment called sensory integration to help assist a client. Sensory integration involves both sensory and motor activities designed by the occupational therapist. The repetition and practice over time improves the brains ability to receive, understand and respond to information from the senses is more organized.
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The Types Of A Sensory Processing Disorder In Three Categories:
1. Sensory Modulation.
Sensory modulation means how we organize sensory information.; Three common patterns are hyposensitive, hypersensitive, and sensory seeking.; They all fall under this sub-type.
There are also sensory disorders in movement or sensory-motor disorders.; A sensory-motor disorder means difficulties in posture and movement.; Sometimes words like dyspraxia or development coordination disorder are also used to describe those sensory-motor or movement disorders.; Posture means how you sit, stand, or move against gravity.; A sensory-motor disorder means difficulties in movement or moving.; Your child might appear clumsy or have difficulty with coordination if they have a sensory-motor disorder.
3. Sensory Discrimination.
There is another sub-type called sensory discrimination.; Sensory discrimination means telling the difference between variations in a single sense.; For example, some children have difficulty hearing the difference between the words bat and cat even when they do not have hearing loss.; Their brains simply cannot distinguish between the two words. That is an indication of a type of auditory sensory discrimination disorder.; With sensory discrimination disorder, there can be difficulty in perception in each of the senses.; It is helpful to know that wearing glasses, using a hearing aid or using a wheelchair are not signs of a sensory disorder.
Sensory Issues Acknowledged By The Dsm
Atypical responses to sensory input is a criterion for an autism diagnosis that was added to the latest edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The DSM-5 defines sensory issues as a feature of restricted or repetitive behavioral symptoms, stating: hyper or hypo reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.
This addition to autism diagnostic criteria may be the reason some therapists refer to SMD as sensory reactivity as mentioned above. There is clearly a link between autism spectrum disorder and SMD, with many kids on the spectrum displaying over- or under-reactivity to sensory stimuli. Sensory seeking behavior is also frequently displayed by children on the spectrum and children with ADHD.
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How Do I Calm My Child With Spd
When you suspect that your childs behaviors indicate SPD, the first thing to do would be to get an evaluation by a professional.
These professionals and occupational therapists would provide resources and recommendations on how to cope with the symptoms and help your child with their senses.
There are also techniques that can be used to alleviate stress. This is called mindfulness.In this technique, you ask the child to describe what they see, hear, taste or touch which can help them calm down.
Asking your child about the feelings they have in their bodies could also be helpful.
They will be able to discover what is going on and understand the process, and learn how they can appropriately respond.
Each child is different; so you will discover what will work best for your child.
Here are some activities that could also help in terms of calming your child down when they are feeling overwhelmed:
- Avoiding overcrowded places
More Examples Of Sensory Sensitivity
Consider this example. You are tired and a noisy household might bother you. Within this moment, you might crave peace and quiet.; However, other times you might love having loud music on in the background and lots of friends or family visiting your house.;
Liking quiet one day and noise the next day does not mean you have a disorder.; In the same vein, just because your child does not like the itch of a wool sweater does not mean your child has one either.;
However, it may become a concern when your child has great difficulty tolerating many types of clothes, in particular those without an itch factor. Or if your child has meltdowns about getting dressed every single day.; In addition, if the change of seasons and the corresponding change in clothing type also pose an extra challenge.; If a situation similar to this is occurring, a sensory processing disorder may be the cause.
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Is There A Difference Between Sensory Modulation Disorder And Sensory Processing Disorder
To many, the term sensory modulation disorder may not be as familiar as the more frequently used sensory processing disorder . Sensory modulation disorder is actually a subtype of SPD. This condition manifests as a type of sensory processing impairment where an individual has difficulty regulating hs/her responses to sensory input.
This subtype can be divided into three further categories, according to response to stimuli displayed by the individual:
1. Sensory over-responsiveness
This is characterized by an overreaction or a really intense reaction to stimuli which others may find neutral or tolerable. For children on the spectrum this can be seen in their reaction to tags on clothing, or texture of food
2. Sensory under-responsiveness
In contrast, individuals may also under-react or take a long time before responding to stimuli compared to their peers. For example, children with this condition may display muted responses and appear lethargic and withdrawn
3. Craving sensory input
Not everyone agrees with the various terms used to describe sensory processing and integration conditions. These terms are used according to preference and how and where the therapist was trained. Sometimes SMD is referred to as sensory reactivity. Despite all the differing terminology, most experts agree that sensory modulation deficits negatively influence childrens ability to match their response to the degree and nature of sensory stimuli in their environment.
Does Sensory Processing Disorder Exist As A Standalone Diagnosis
Whilst a large number of professionals and therapists refer to SPD, currently it is not formally recognised as a standalone diagnosis.; None of the official diagnostic manuals include SPD.; This can be very confusing as many doctors and therapists will use the term SPD or sensory issues.; The will also include it as a diagnosis on reports and letters.; The term Sensory Processing Disorder is widely used.; However, it is technically not a standalone diagnosis.; Despite this, there are many teams of researchers working towards having Sensory Processing Disorder recognised as a diagnosis in its own right.; It may be next time the diagnostic manuals are revised there will be sufficient evidence to have it included.
Is there a difference between sensory processing disorder and autism/Aspergers?
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What If I Want To Read More Research/evidence On Si And Spd
These websites often update their publication list:
Asterisks * indicate references that are parent and teacher friendly
- Ayres, A.J. . SI and Learning Disorders.
- Ayres, J.A. . SI and the Child.*
- Bialer D., Miller. L.J. . No Longer A Secret: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory or Motor Challenges.
- Dunn, W. . Sensory Profile.; Users Manual. Texas: The Psychological Corporation.
- Parham, L. D., Cohn, E. S., Spitzer, S., Koomar, J. A., Miller, L. J., Burke, J. P., et al. . Fidelity in SI practice intervention research. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 216227.
- Miller, L.J. . Sensational Kids Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder. *
- Miller L.J., Anzalone, M.E., Lane, S.J., Cermak, S.A. and Osten, E.T., 2007. Concept Evolution in SI: A Proposed Nosology for Diagnosis.; American Journal of Occupational Therapy 61, pp. 135-140.
- Schaaf, R.C., Davies, P.L., Evolution of the SI Frame of Reference. American Journal of Occupational Therapy 64 , pp. 363-367.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- How can I determine whether I have/my child has SPD?
- I have/my child has SPD. Now what?
- How can I help my young child have fun at the playground if he or she has SPD?
- Can my child live a normal life?
- How might my child react to certain stimuli?
- Will SPD go away as my child gets older?
- Are there any medicines that help SPD?
- Can you help me find out if my insurance will cover therapy?
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Myth #: Kids With Sensory Processing Issues Are Overreacting
Fact: Kids with sensory processing issues may seem fussy. It may appear that they get upset for no reason. But the truth is theyre reacting to things that may not be as noticeable to others.
Some kids may get agitated and overwhelmed in a restaurant because of a specific smell. Or at the mall because of a type of sound. Or they might refuse to wear certain clothing or brush their hair because it feels painful. For these kids, having too much sensory information to process can lead to a sensory meltdown or shutting down.
Is There A Treatment For Sensory Processing Disorder
At this time there is no treatment for SPD, but there are ways to help manage the sensory issues. A highly trained Occupational Therapist can focus on each childs individual sensitivities, providing them with the appropriate amount of activities based on their needs. A swing can provide necessary movement for a child who needs stimulation, while the use of a soft-bristled sensory brush may be used for a child who has an aversion to touch or certain sensations against their skin. Sensory Integration therapy exposes a child to a variety of accommodations, activities, and treatments.
Because sensory processing is not listed as an actual disorder, many experts hesitate to use treatments that are not backed by a lot of research showing the effectiveness in helping to change these behaviors. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that parents should be informed that the amount of research regarding the effectiveness of sensory integration therapy is limited and inconclusive.
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Myth #: Sensory Processing Issues Is Just Another Name For Adhd
Fact: ADHD and sensory processing issues have some things in common, like fidgeting, struggling with personal space, and even experiencing sensory overload. And tools like weighted blankets and fidgets can benefit kids with both. But even though they have some overlap and can co-occur, there are key differences between ADHD and sensory issues. Not all kids with ADHD have sensory issues, just like not all kids with sensory issues have ADHD.
By understanding more about sensory processing issues, you can help dispel myths others have. Get tips for talking to your childs teacher about sensory processing issues. And read what one dad wants people to know about parenting a child with sensory processing issues.
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Distinguishing Sensory Processing Disorder From Autism
I came across this article and I thought it was a good one to share! Although Autism awareness is on the rise, fewer people know about Sensory Processing Disorder . If you would like some general information about SPD and Autism, check out the websites pasted below:;
Sensory Processing Disorders and autism are two conditions that can exist one without the other or they can be comorbid. Making a clear distinction between the two is important especially since SPD can look like autism. SPD is diagnosed by an occupational therapist that is trained in sensory integration. A child with SPD can easily be misdiagnosed for a child with ASD due to sensory processing problems/symptoms children with autism experience. As I have defined in previous blogs, ASD is a neurological disorder that affects normal brain function and significantly impacts development of the persons communication and social interaction skills. SPD was formerly known as sensory integration dysfunction. Our neurological system helps process signals received from our senses by turning them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Therefore, SPD affects how a person receives, integrates and makes sense of sensory information.
Here are some ways to distinguish SPD in young children, as the characteristics below are unique to SPD. As always, feel free to post any questions.
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