All children are particular about things they dislike. The taste of broccoli, the sound of an ambulance siren, or the feel of an itchy wool sweater, for example. But for a child with a sensory processing disorder, exposure to stimuli that seem unoffensive to others often results in an extreme response that interferes with the child’s normal, everyday functioning.
A sensory processing disorder in children can impact one sense or multiple senses, and each child is affected in a different way. While it’s widely accepted that children with Autism have trouble with sensory processing, those who don’t fall on the spectrum can also find it challenging to handle stimuli and respond appropriately.
However, there is good news. A combined program of physical therapy and occupational therapy can strengthen a child’s ability to appropriately respond to sensory stimuli. In time, many children are able to function in a positive way at school and home. If you think your child may have a sensory processing disorder, continue reading for a closer look at the different types and symptoms.
Sensory Modulation Disorder in San Diego Children
Children with sensory modulation disorder have difficulty regulating their responses to sensory stimuli and maintaining an appropriate level of arousal or alertness. There are three types of sensory modulation disorder:
- Hypersensitivity (or over-responsiveness), which is an exaggerated response to the sensory environment.
- Hyposensitivity (or under-responsiveness), which is an insufficient or lack of response to sensory input.
- Sensory seeking, which is characterized by a constant need for intense sensory input so the brain can register the sensation.
Symptoms of sensory modulation disorder include:
Hypersensitivity with Sensory Modulation Disorder
- Gagging and refusal to eat foods of a particular texture
- Avoiding messy substances like lotion, finger paint, play dough, or dirt
- Strong aversion to teeth-brushing, hair washing, and bathing
- Oversensitivity to audible and visual stimuli
- Strong dislike of clothing with tags, seams, and of certain fabrics
- Frequent meltdowns that are extreme for the situation
- Easily moody, irritable, or fussy
Hyposensitivity with Sensory Modulation Disorder
- Slow to respond to sounds and sights as babies
- Difficulty transitioning to baby food
- May not notice messy hands or face
- Often appears to be daydreaming or unfocused
- Craving salty or spicy foods
- May ask “what?” frequently even though hearing is fine
- High pain tolerance or doesn’t notice cuts and bruises
Sensory Seeking with Sensory Modulation Disorder
- Love roughhousing and constant movement as babies
- May jump, skip or run everywhere instead of walk
- Touching everything in sight, often putting things in their mouths
- Poor attention span
- May crash into walls or fall to the floor on purpose
- Difficulty sitting still in a chair or desk
- Crave extra crunchy, chewy, or flavorful foods
Sensory Discrimination Disorder in San Diego Children
Children with sensory discrimination disorder have difficulty determining the source of a sensation and are unable to detect similarities or differences in stimuli. Symptoms of sensory discrimination disorder include:
- Not knowing what they are holding without looking
- Difficulty describing physical characteristics of an object by touch alone
- Unable to distinguish when a food is too hot or too cold to eat
- Difficulty telling the difference between textures and tastes of food
- Challenges telling the difference between two smells
- May frequently confuse left and right
- Difficulty determining the source of a noise or who is speaking to them
- Unable to distinguish between colors or shapes
Postural-Ocular Disorder in San Diego Children
Children with postural-ocular disorder have impairments of the joints and muscles, which can make it hard to maintain proper posture and can impact motor skills. Symptoms of postural-ocular disorder include:
- Leans on furniture or slouches
- Falls over and has poor balance
- Difficulties with fine gross motor skills
- Avoids playing sports or moving their bodies
- Poor tracking of visual stimuli
- Becomes fatigued easily
- Difficulty establishing left or right handedness
- Poor posture control or strength
Dyspraxia in San Diego Children
Children with dyspraxia find it challenging to plan, sequence, or execute unfamiliar tasks. They also have difficulty coordinating big and small muscle movements, which can impact speech and motor skills. The symptoms of dyspraxia include:
- Trouble pronouncing particular words
- Tripping and bumping into walls
- Inability to throw or catch a ball
- Clumsy when walking up or down stairs
- Completing homework at a very slow pace
- Trouble keeping the rhythm in music
- Awkward at playing sports
- Illegible handwriting
If your child has a sensory processing disorder, FITS San Diego can help.
Research suggests that 1 in 20 children in the U.S. have a sensory processing disorder. If you believe your child is one of them, please contact his or her pediatrician as soon as you notice symptoms. Then, get in touch with us at FITS in San Diego. With early intervention, children can learn how to process sensory stimulation so they can behave appropriately and grow up to be confident, highly functioning individuals.
At Functional Integrated Therapeutic Services (FITS), we specialize in working with children with sensory processing disorders, anxiety, ADHD, and other developmental disabilities. Call us today to learn more about our services and how we’re uniquely suited to help your child.