You might be suspecting that your child has sensory processing difficulties. You could be noticing small habits or dislikes they have and may be left wondering if it is just a quirk or if it is something more. It is estimated that 1 in every 20 children in the United States has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and there are many possible behaviors your child might be showing that could be SPD. They may not like being hugged or touched, have difficulty from switching from one activity to the next or have peculiar behaviors such as constantly walking on their tippy-toes. These are just a few that can be noted as signs of Sensory Processing Disorder and more can be found listed below in this article.
A child might be bothered by clothing which can turn into difficulties when getting dressed and buying new clothes. Upset with tags in clothing or how the item fits are flags of SPD. Preferring tight clothing or packing on layers may help them feel calmer and better. Yet, a child might absolutely despise tight clothing and must have loose collars and bottoms with drawstrings. Children with SPD are found to not be able to tolerate stiff fabric or find clothing scratchy.
Does your child hate parties or going to public places that are full of people? Meltdowns frequent at the mall or grocery store? Your child could be overstimulated from all the noise, lights and sights or scared of people accidentally brushing into them.
A child may cover their ears in anticipation of certain sounds or while hearing them. Overreacting by running away from the source or crying are flags that are related to their auditory processing. Others include being annoyed or distracted by sounds that most people don’t notice like being extremely bothered by noises such as the ticking of a clock, the buzz of a refrigerator or fan are found in children with SPD. Sounds that affect them could also be hand dryers, hair dryers and vacuums. A child might also be on the different end of the spectrum and prefer very loud noises and keeps the TV, radio or music loud. You could be in a quiet environment with your child and having them not respond or noticing when their name is called or having to repeat what you said when talking to them are also indicators.
It can be hard to differentiate a picky eater or someone with sensory issues. However, if it causing difficulties so much that it disrupts meal time, family routine and a child’s overall nutrition these could be warning signs. Your child may gag at the smell, sight or taste of food. Only desiring certain textures of food such as eating only crunchy (crackers, chips, pretzels) or avoiding items that include multiple textures such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Other displays of SPD are requiring food be at a certain temperature and not touching it otherwise.
Children with tactile sensitivities will steer clear from having sand touching their feet or hands. Walking barefoot on the grass is also found intolerable. If they refuse to set foot on these textures this is a clear display of SPD. They may even avoid messy textures all together when it comes to playtime.
If you believe that your child is exhibiting some of the behavior above and it is becoming a disturbance in their daily life, please contact a medical professional. Just because your child is matching up with some of the items listed does not automatically mean that something is wrong. Sensory processing is complex and wide ranged. If you suspect that your child has sensory processing differences, speak with a medical professional.