Sensory Processing Disorder (part 1): what it is

Crying, whining, irritability. How do you know what’s going on with your child, especially when they can’t communicate how they’re feeling? It might be that they’re too young to understand, their early life inhibited their ability to identify emotions and physical senses, or they are nonverbal.

Our son, Jeremiah, cried from the time he came into our home until he was two-and-a-half. That’s a lot of crying, and a lot of frustration. Frustration because we wanted to help him and we felt something was wrong, and exasperation because of the barrage of noise. It took two years and three months to find the main cause of his crying (there is still quite a bit of crying, but it’s significantly less than it used to be). We had a Speech Pathologist and Developmental Therapist coming to our home weekly, and they finally introduced Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) as a possibility, and offered a Sensory Diet as a solution. (More on what a Sensory Diet is later this week.)

Through trying to find answers for both my son and daughter, I have seen that Sensory Processing Disorder shows itself in both children with Autism and children who have been adopted. It may show up in other children, but these are the two areas I am most interested in. Doctors are reticent to acknowledge mention of SPD, although I’m not sure exactly why. It’s not a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and this is probably cause for a doctors concern. However, if they would spend a significant amount of time with a child who has SPD, they would see the obvious exasperation, and annoyance that SPD can cause, and the utter necessity of sensory stimulation in many of our children. It cannot be ignored. It’s causing literal pain in our children.

I’m not saying we need a medication for kids who suffer from SPD, I’m saying that we need to recognize what’s going on so that we can then work on solutions for our child (a Sensory Diet).

WebMD explains, “Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Some people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. The light touch of a shirt may chafe the skin.”

This week I will be following up with more information on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

Check out these other Sensory related links:
Sensory Processing Disorder #2 (does your child have sensory issues?)
new scientific evidence for Sensory Processing Disorder
13 (funny) reasons you know your child has SPD (originally posted in part by Shut Up)