Sensory Processing Disorder; A Better Understanding


Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a dysfunction is the way the body receives and perceives sensory input. This could be taste, touch, smell, sights, sounds, body movement and balance and body positioning.

This could affect every day life such as the following:

  • How we interact with other individuals
  • Social and family relationships (hugging, talking etc.)
  • Learning and processing
  • Emotional regulation
  • Behavioral obstacles
  • Regulating our bodies
  • Sleep

Medical professionals have the ability to maintain this disorder! Occupational Therapy practitioners provide treatment on individuals with Sensory Processing disorder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although there is not cure for SPD, is is 100% possible to live a healthy, long life!


OT practitioners provide Sensory Diets to individuals with SPD. This is an in home way to maintain and prevent sensory “outburst” the outside stimuli may cause. OTs perform therapy on individuals with SPD in outpatient settings. Sensory gyms are a great way for a child to become regulated. Some children have vestibular sensitives such as swinging on a swing because it makes them feel unsafe or dizzy. OT practitioners will help children work through those insecurities through play to provide a natural treatment.

How many children does SPD affect?

In 2007, 16% of children ages 7-11 had symptoms of SPD.

What are risk factors for SPD?

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Prenatal complications
  • Maternal stress
  • Maternal illness
  • Maternal use of medications
  • Delivery complications

It is important to know that these risk factors will not 100% cause SPD.

Do symptoms of SPD get worse if they go untreated?

Yes, SPD needs to be recognized and maintained. It is extremely uncomfortable and fairly frustrating for individuals with SPD and their family to deal with the concerns SPD arises. SPD becomes manageable and symptoms subside with proper maintenance and treatment. When individuals with SPD learn how to regain control, it is a rewarding and relieving feeling.

How does SPD affect the individual and family?

Some family members do not understand the symptoms that come along with SPD. It is frustrating for outside individuals when a child is screaming because it is too loud, or having a tantrum when the get their hands dirty. Awareness is important in family aspects so the child and the family can help each other have a better understanding and success rate.

As shown in the video above, children can be both under responsive and over responsive to certain stimuli which can be concerning for families. If is a child is under responsive to touch, the child could easily burn themselves on hot water, or if they are over responsive they may not feel it at all!

It is best to take a multidisciplinary approach with medical practitioners for the best treatment for your child. This includes; Pediatricians, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapists, Psychologists and Speech Pathologists.

Online blogs, websites and social media groups can assist parents on coping with SPD and learn from each other to better improve their child’s life!



Latest Research Findings | STAR Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2016
Gonthier, C., Longuépée, L., & Bouvard, M. (2016). Sensory Processing in Low-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Distinct Sensory Profiles and Their Relationships with Behavioral Dysfunction. Journal Of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 46(9), 3078-3089. doi:10.1007/s10803-016-2850-1
Stewart, C., Sanchez, S., Grenesko, E., Brown, C., Chen, C., Keehn, B., & … Müller, R. (2016). Sensory Symptoms and Processing of Nonverbal Auditory and Visual Stimuli in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal Of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 46(5), 1590-1601. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2367-z