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Sensory Processing Disorder – What is it?

On January 9th, 2013

Recently, I read an article by Megan Bushman on Sensory Processing Disorder.  This is what she said and I agree that if this disorder is not identified and treated effectively, a person may experience behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, and school failure.  A BodyTalk session with a certified BodyTalk Practitioner will be extremely helpful in re-wiring the sensory processing of the brain.  Consider taking a BodyTalk Access class to enhance better brain communication to address this issue.  Find a class near you.  Register today!  Your health and your family's health may depend on it.

By Megan Bushman

sensory-disorderThe way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses is called Sensory Processing, or sometimes called Sensory Integration.  Whether biting into a sandwich, riding a bike, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.”

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), is a neurological disorder that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses.  It is the brain’s inability to integrate everyday sensory information it receives from the five senses:  touch, sight, sound, smell and taste.  Put another way by pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PHD, she likens it to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.

Children learn through their senses.  A child who seems to have difficulty processing sensory information may not be developmentally on track in terms of social skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills and language.  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.  Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure and other impacts may result if the disorder is not identified and treated effectively.

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 exhibit hypersensitivity and over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food or other sensory input to be unbearable.  Another person may under respond exhibiting hyposensitivity and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold.

What are the symptoms?

A person with SPD may show signs of problems with all, or just some of the categories listed below.  An affected person may be over or under responsive to any of these categories.

Tactile-sense of touch and feeling

Vestibular-sense and feelings of movement

Proprioception-sense of position and perception

Auditory-sense of hearing

Olfactory-sense of smell

Visual-sense of sight

What does it look like?

The most notable signs of SPD present themselves in the following way:

Touch: They may avoid or crave touch, get irritated by certain clothing; for example, tags and sock seams.

Smell:  They may be susceptible to allergies, may need to excessively smell toys, items or people.

Taste: They are “picky eaters”, exhibit pica (eating non-edible items like chalk, crayons, direct, etc.)

Sight:  They have difficulty going down stairs, exhibit poor hand eye coordination, experience eye discomfort when required to perform visual work like reading frequent headaches and stomach upset after school, may need to read out loud to keep place, dyslexia and light sensitivity.

Auditory:  They may be upset with loud or unexpected noises, hum and sing to screen out unwanted noises, bothered by clock ticking, refrigerator humming, air conditioner running, cover ears a lot, speak loudly.

Proprioception:  They may have trouble judging weight of objects.  They will often write too lightly or too hard.  They may tear the page when erasing.  They have poor motor control and even run into walls or bump into objects by accident.

Vestibular:  This has to do with a persons’ sense of movement and balance that is processed in the inner ear.  They may like spinning, are fearful of heights and don’t like to be upside down.

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; or the children who get called “klutz” and “spaz” on the playground because of poor motor skills.  Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive.  These children are often misdiagnosed and inappropriately medicated for ADHD.

In next week’s article, look for Part II and learn why this disorder is misdiagnosed and what treatments are available.

HealthKeepers Magazine April 2012

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