Previously referred to as Sensory Integration Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) represents a disconnect between the nervous system and brain. When this disconnect is present, children with SPD encounter external stimuli as difficult to process and integrate.
What is SPD?
SPD causes sensory inputs to be improperly interpreted, whether emitting from the immediate environment or the body itself. This leads to unexpected responses.
When children struggle with SPD, feelings which are natural for other children (fatigue, hunger, heat, cold, sound, light) can be difficult to interpret, causing them to becoming overwhelmed.
SPD is not standard from one child to the next and, like autism, exists on a spectrum. Taste, hearing, smell and touch can all be affected by SPD.
For parents, determining the sensation your child is responding to can be challenging. Part of the work is to guide the child toward better sensory regulation and identification.
Not necessarily autism
NPD was once associated solely with children on the autism spectrum. Today, though, it is considered a unique disorder which can exist independent of an autism diagnosis.
It’s also important to note that not all autistic children suffer from SPD.
Following are some key symptoms of SPD. The presence of these symptoms may indicate that your child needs support to manage them:
Extreme response/no response:
Sensory input like cold should evoke a shiver, not a tantrum. But it should evoke some response. Children with SPD will have either extreme or no response to sensory input. An example is children who don’t acknowledge the cold (because they don’t feel it) and fail to wear a jacket outdoors for that reason.
Children with SPD are highly sensitive to textures. Some clothing (wool comes to mind) produces an intolerable sensation. Also, clothing with seams which aren’t noticed by other children are unwearable for SPD children.
Changing activities or moving from one room of the house to another or another classroom can all be challenging for SPD children.
They may also over react to changes like new furnishing in the home, or new people. Unexpected changes can cause full on meltdowns and/or withdrawal.
While the sound of an ambulance passing on the street, sirens wailing, annoys most people, sounds like that (loud and sustained) can elicit a physical pain response in a child with SPD.
SPD children will often have extreme responses to certain food textures or colors. This is a difficult challenge for parents, compelling them to carefully help their children navigate the world of food with an understanding of what triggers them.
Lack of spatial awareness:
When SPD children are overwhelmed by sensory stimuli, they may have difficulty locating themselves in relation to items like furniture. Their limited ability to govern their placement in a physical environment which has become “too much” for them.
Fun Factory sensory gym
The Fun Factory sensory gym has been created to educate, challenge and stimulate, bringing the outdoor play experience into a more private setting which is safe and non-threatening, supporting the efforts of therapists and parents.
After five years in practice, I decided that I needed to upgrade the look of my office to allow for optimal patient care. Upon researching some possibilities, I came across the Fun Factory Sensory Gym. I immediately called the company to purchase my own gym unit. We scheduled an install date and in three short days, my gym and my vision were complete. My patients and their parents walk in and are amazed at the beautiful and fun set up. I truly feel that my patients are getting the most effective and efficient care because I have the best equipment to address their individual needs. With the Fun Factory Gym equipment, I am able to help these children improve by Leaps and Bounds!
The Kaufman Children’s Center was proud to announce an exciting upgrade made here at the KCC. Over a long weekend in late January 2013, we completed a huge remodel to our sensory gym.
Our Fun Factory Sensory Gym has been life changing for our family! The entire experience of having the FFSG team in our home was so enjoyable. The crew’s heart and soul is behind the work they’re doing. From the first phone call, FFSG was committed to helping our family and our 3 small children with their various special needs. We have already experienced the calming effects of the net swing and the multiple ways the entire gym provides sensory input and regulation for our intense sensory seekers. What a great tool for our family and more than worth the investment!