Sensory Processing Disorder, also known as Sensory Integration Disorder, is a condition that causes the brain to be overly sensitive or under sensitive to stimuli. The symptoms of the disorder can vary greatly from one child to the next.
At Woodburn Pediatric, we’ve worked with many parents and occupational therapists to help children with sensory processing disorder. Read on to learn more about the latest research and treatment strategies.
Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder
For those with SPD who experience oversensitivity, certain sounds may be painful to hear or the light touch of a particular fabric or clothing tag may be unacceptably uncomfortable.
For those with SPD who are under-sensitivity, they may crave deep pressure, such as a hug so tight that most would find it uncomfortable. They are often less likely to sense danger. On the swings, for example, a child with SPD may want to go higher; or on a jungle gym, they may climb beyond a parent’s sense of safety.
Causes of Sensory Processing Disorder
A specific cause for sensory processing disorder has yet to be identified.
A recent brain imaging study completed by researchers at UC San Francisco has found that children with sensory processing disorder have altered connectivity pathways in their white matter using Diffuser Tensor Imaging (DTI).
Other studies have indicated that there is likely a genetic component.
SPD is commonly a co-diagnosis with developmental conditions like autism, and sometimes ADD, or ADHD. It is not currently recognized as a stand-alone condition, but as we get more experience recognizing SPD, this will likely change.
Treating Sensory Processing Disorder
Treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder involves an approach called sensory integration in which an occupational therapist exposes a child to the specific stimuli in a controlled environment so that over time they will be able to desensitize their response to it.
Because sensory processing sensitivity is so frequently linked to autism, the therapy is often integrated into existing therapy plans.
Most find that with a tailored sensory integration plan, children find relief and can learn to tolerate their sensitivities. The brain imaging study from UCSF indicated that in the future, these scans will be able to give parents, pediatricians, and therapists a better understanding of a child’s specific sensory challenges and enable a more precise treatment plan.
If you have concerns that your child has sensory processing difficulties that are impairing the child’s ability to function, contact us at Woodburn Pediatric Clinic.