Does My Child Have Sensory Processing Challenges?
Sensory Processing Challenges
As children grow and develop, they begin to be able to make better use of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. When confronted with messages from the senses, our sensory system allows us to exhibit the correct motor and behavioral responses to process information accordingly. Development of the five senses is a fundamental part of sensory processing and is able to assist children as they grow and take in external stimuli. Often, many people process this sensory information without difficulty or awareness that they are doing so. For some children, however, sensory information can be overwhelming and confusing, or in contrast can be unnoticeable to the child.
People with Sensory Processing Challenges struggle to receive and respond to information in an appropriate way. Children who struggle with sensory processing may experience a certain type of negative response to one or more of their senses.
Over-Responsive To Sensory Input (Hypersensitivity):
Individuals who struggle with hypersensitivity disorder experience high levels of sensitivity when faced with stimulation of one or more senses. Extreme sensitivity to sensory information has the ability to affect the regulation behavior and development in children.
Symptoms of hypersensitivity include:
Extreme response to sudden to loud or high-pitched noises (flushing toilets, clanking silverware, etc.)
Easily distracted by subtle background noises
Scared of unexpected touch
Avoids intimate touch (hugs or cuddles) with familiar adults
Struggles in crowds
Avoids being too close to other people
Overly fearful of swings and playground equipment
Under-Responsive To Sensory Input (Hyposensitivity):
Hyposensitivity may cause people to seek the sensory input that they are lacking. Commonly, people with this disorder experience an absence of sensory feedback. For instance, they may not be able to detect changes in temperature when in the shower, or not experience severe pain if they stub their toe. Some symptoms of hyposensitivity include:
Lacks understanding of personal space and boundaries
A constant need for touch
High pain tolerance
Unable to sit still or fidgety
Enjoys movement-based play, such as spinning and jumping
How Can You Help?
A child with Sensory Processing Challenges may benefit from environmental modifications or adjustments to the "sensory offender". Some children benefit from wearing headphones in loud areas or may benefit from movement breaks, heavy work, or having ways to appropriately fidget. If you suspect your child is having Sensory Processing Challenges having professional support can help parents assess what is typical development to adversity or what is needed to keep a child feeling ok in their experience. Sensory Processing Challenges are often the first place we start at Creative Sky Psychology. If the environment is over or underwhelming learning and feeling good and be very difficult for a child. Having some tools or ideas can help a child learn to regulate their sensory system so other areas of the brain can grow and thrive!