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What is Sensory Processing Disorder and how can it be treated?

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to sensory input. It was once known as a sensory integration disorder, but it is no longer recognized as a separate medical diagnosis. Sensory processing disorder causes some people to be too sensitive to their surroundings. For example, common sounds might be painful or overwhelming. A shirt's gentle touch may chafe the skin. Others who suffer from sensory processing disorder might:

  • Have a lack of coordination

  • Collide with objects

  • Be unable to determine the location of their limbs in space

  • Be challenging to converse with or play with.

  • Sensory processing disorders are commonly found in children. They can, however, impact adults.

  • Sensory processing difficulties are widespread in developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder.

Sensory processing disorder isn't considered a separate condition. However, many experts believe that this should change.

The three types of sensory processing disorders (SPDs) are as follows:

  1. Sensory modulation disorder is the first pattern. The person who is affected has trouble responding to sensory stimuli. However, they may be overly or underly receptive to stimuli, or they may crave them.

  2. Sensory-based motor dysfunction is the second pattern. Balance, motor coordination, and completing skilled, non-habitual, and habitual motor tasks are all problematic for the affected person. They may not be aware of how their limbs are positioned, for example.

  3. Sensory discrimination disorder (pattern 3) (SDD). The person who is afflicted may have difficulty comprehending the stimuli. For example, they may not realize how hard they must grasp an object to avoid breaking it, or they may struggle to figure out which way to turn when walking.

How can Sensory Processing Disorder be diagnosed?

A thorough evaluation by either an Occupational Therapist or a Physiotherapist is usually followed by a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. Standardized testing and organized observations of the child's response to sensory stimulation, balance, coordination, posture, and eye movements are usually included in the screening.

The Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests are the current standardized assessment tools used to diagnose Sensory Processing Disorder. This is a collection of 17 tests that assess various aspects of sensory processing. For example, the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests assessed the vestibular, kinaesthetic, proprioceptive, tactile, and visual systems' motor planning components. It's also vital to talk about the child's developmental history and any symptoms they've noticed emerging with the parents/carers during the diagnosis.

Early diagnosis is critical since it allows for early action. Because therapies are easier to provide to younger children while their brains are still developing, earlier diagnosis increases the chances of successful intervention. Although older children can still benefit from successful therapies, they are more likely to focus on coping and management strategies. Therefore, clinical observations are always undertaken in addition to standardized examinations to examine real-life movements and how the child reacts to sensory stimulation in various situations, including the child's home and educational settings.

How can Sensory processing disorder be treated?

Using therapy

Working with an occupational therapist on tasks that help retrain the senses is common for SPD treatment. Many therapists utilize an occupational therapy sensory Integration (OT-SI) approach, which starts in a controlled, stimulating environment and makes SPD simpler to handle in everyday life.

Sensory Integration challenges patients' senses with engaging, exciting activities that don't overwhelm them or make them feel like they're failing. Eventually, the goal is to take these learned, proper reactions outside of the clinic, to home, school, and everyday life.

A "sensory diet," in which activities are introduced in a moderate, pleasant way to ease into a range of sensations, may be used as part of treatment. Patients who practice at home benefit the most from this method.

Therapy may also include the following, depending on the senses affected:

  • Using a sensory integration approach in physical treatment (PT-SI)

  • Vision therapy can help persons who have problems reading, merging into traffic, or writing improve their eye-motor abilities.

  • Listening therapy (LT) requires patients with auditory difficulties to listen to various sound frequencies and patterns while performing other motor tasks such as walking on a balance beam to activate the brain.

  • Psychotherapy for people with SPD who have acquired a mood disorder or anxiety.

The purpose of all of these therapies is to help people improve their everyday skills, such as:

  • How you are touched and how you are touched

  • How you are moved and how you are moved

  • Bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body together)

  • Eye motor abilities (how do you read/watch a ball approaching you)

If you are looking for an occupational therapist online, check out Daffodil Health Occupational Therapy.

Lifestyle changes

Sensory organizing is prioritizing a patient's demands and establishing an environment that optimizes strengths while minimizing problems. This breaks down chores and routines into short, basic stages that limit the amount of sensory stimulation a patient who is easily overstimulated must undergo.

For example, sound-blocking headphones and other instruments meant to make stimuli less intrusive may assist in moderate environmental noise. Wearing loose-fitting, tag-free clothing can help. Wearing a scarf to cover your nose or carrying a pleasant sachet in your pocket to conceal bothersome aromas are also helpful solutions. Finally, allow your youngster to wear sunglasses in bright light and to take regular pauses when visiting significant, overwhelming places with you.

Here are some additional child-friendly strategies:

  1. The sensory-seeking, hyperactive child: Make him carry the laundry basket, push the shopping cart, or carry the groceries in from the car.

  2. For the tactilely sensitive child, do finger-painting activities at the kitchen table and let him use shaving cream to draw pictures on the bathtub walls.

  3. Swimming, horseback riding, and bouncing on a trampoline can all aid a child with a poor sense of space and balance.

Daffodil Health is creating an ecosystem to help families and parents of kids with special needs. In the same endeavor, we have launched parent training events and a marketplace for learning aids, toys, and much more.

Follow the link to know about all the Upcoming Parent Training Events.

Follow this link to look at all the products that can be helpful for your child.

Hope you find all the resources useful. If you want to contribute to Daffodil Health's mission or become a part of the team, please reach out to We would love to get you onboard and work together towards unlocking the 10% workforce potential.

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