What is Sensory Processing?
Sensory processing is the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioural responses.
Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.”
A Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organised into appropriate responses. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act on 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.
What do people experience with SPD?
Sensory Processing Disorder can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These are the “floppy babies” who worry new parents and the kids who get called clumsy. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids are often misdiagnosed – and inappropriately medicated – for ADHD.
Sensory Processing Disorder is most commonly diagnosed in children, but people who reach adulthood without treatment also experience symptoms and continue to be affected by their inability to accurately and appropriately interpret sensory messages.
Many health care professionals are not trained to recognise sensory issues. It is important to seek help from professionals who are qualified in sensory processing through the Sensory Integration Network, such as Cocoon Solutions.
Emotional and other impacts of Sensory Processing Disorder
Children with Sensory Processing Disorder sometimes have problems with motor skills and other abilities needed for school success and childhood accomplishments. As a result, they often become socially isolated and suffer from low self-esteem and other social/emotional issues.
These difficulties put children with SPD at high risk for many emotional, social, and educational problems, including the inability to make friends or be a part of a group, poor self-concept, academic failure, and being labeled clumsy, uncooperative, belligerent, disruptive, or “out of control.” Anxiety, depression, aggression, or other behavior problems can follow. Parents may be blamed for their children’s behavior by people who are unaware of the child’s “hidden handicap.”
Cocoon Solutions can provide effective treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder. Many children with sensory symptoms are misdiagnosed and not properly treated. Untreated SPD that persists into adulthood can affect an individual’s ability to succeed in marriage, work, and social environments.
How Sensory Processing Disorder is treated
Most children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) are just as intelligent as their peers. Their brains are wired differently and they need to be taught in ways that are adapted to how they process information, and need leisure activities that suit their own sensory processing needs.
Once children with Sensory Processing Disorder have been accurately diagnosed, they benefit from a treatment program of Occupational Therapy (OT) with a sensory integration (SI) approach. When appropriate and applied by a well-trained clinician, listening therapy (such as Integrated Listening Systems) or other complementary therapies may be combined effectively with OT-SI.
Treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder helps parents and others who live and work with sensational children to understand that Sensory Processing Disorder is real, even though it is “hidden.” With this assurance, they become better advocates for their child at school and within the community.