What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

A question I get asked a lot! Not an easy one to answer since it’s different for everyone.

The STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder is a great resource. Here is their umbrella definition:

“Sensory processing (originally called “sensory integration dysfunction” or SID) refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), exists when sensory signals are either not detected or don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist, educational psychologist, 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.”

They also mention that “symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder, like those of most disorders, occur within a broad spectrum of severity.”

That last line goes back to what I mentioned in the beginning. Due to that broad spectrum, this can be different for everyone. It’s helpful that I started reading “The Out-Of-Sync Child.” There are many sub-categories of Sensory Processing Disorder that the book gets into. Within those sub-categories there are descriptions as to how a child may react if they are considered overresponsive, underresponsive or sensory-craving. Children can fit into one of these boxes or maybe a variety within the subcategories  As I continue to read “The Out-of-Sync Child,” I’ll be sure to share what I learn and how my personal experience relates to that information.

I can’t even fully explain what exactly it is for ‘J.’ I can say he seems to relate to that of a sensory-craving child but there are definitely moments where he is overresponsive. I’m understanding more about him as I read and learn. I know what triggers him and what doesn’t. I’m also still surprised by what does and doesn’t trigger him. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning or have a full grasp on it, but it will become more clear one as time goes on. I look forward to having more tools to help him through his sensory meltdowns so they don’t ruin a portion of or sometimes his whole day. I look forward to being able to better help him handle situations that give him anxiety. None of us like experiencing the unexpected. It’s scary, unnerving and stressful. For ‘J’ it’s that times a thousand. We do a lot of prep during the day. We discuss what we’re going to do, who we’re going to see and as any changes arise, we talk those through as well. Once we work with our Occupational Therapist and do the homework I’m certain we’ll have, I know he will be able to organize his thoughts and feelings so much better.

I mean he’s super smart…yeah I know every parent says that…but seriously…he’s insanely smart. Which could be an additional factor as to what’s going on. But that’s a blog for another time.

Links to a Few Resources

The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz

STAR Institute

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder? A video posted by MichaelGrass House on YouTube

When Kids Don’t Act Like They’re Supposed To (Understanding Sensory Processing In Kids) A video posted by Your Kid’s Table on YouTube


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