Sensory processing disorder (SPD), a neurological condition that affects around 5-16 percent of people is even more common in those with ADHD, affecting an estimated 40 to 60 percent of ADHD children.1,2 Find out the types, causes, and signs of this disorder and how Brillia’s holistic approach may help.Depending on the type of sensory processing disorder you or your child have, signs of the condition will vary. However, some of the most common symptoms to look out for include:
What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?If you or your child feel constantly assaulted by loud sounds, itchy tags, strong-smelling perfumes, and other sensory input, sensory processing disorder may be at fault. Sensory processing disorder is a neurological condition that interferes with the body’s ability to receive sensory information (touches, movements, smells, tastes, sights, and sounds) and convert them into correct motor and behavioral responses. Though the disorder has not yet been recognized as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there are various studies that prove the validity of this condition. In one 2016 study, researchers at UC San Francisco discovered that children with sensory processing disorder have altered pathways for brain connectivity when compared to typically developing children.3 They found that a notable difference in “white matter” predicts difficulties with auditory and tactile processing. However, children are not the only ones affected by sensory processing disorder. Sensory processing disorder impacts adults and children alike, making one’s daily environment feel like an obstacle course. Sensory processing disorder may interfere with how you get along with others, how you study and work, and how you participate in group activities.
Main Types of Sensory Processing DisorderThere are three types of sensory processing disorders described below:
- Sensory Modulation Disorder: People with this type have difficulty processing sensory information into appropriate responses that match the intensity of the sensory information. They may respond by either avoiding stimuli (covering ears, hiding), disregarding stimuli (appearing withdrawn), or seeking stimuli out.
- Sensory Discrimination Disorder: People with this type of sensory processing disorder have difficulty using the senses to adequately learn. For instance, even if they have practiced a task multiple times, they will not retain such information the next time they approach the task, making each attempt seem like the first time.
- Sensory-Based Motor Disorder: People with this type have difficulty with movements, either appearing clumsy or uncoordinated.
Common Signs & Symptoms
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- Increased reactivity to sounds, touches, and movements
- Under-reactivity to name being called
- Constant seeking of touch, movement, or auditory input (including making sounds to themselves or touching objects)
- Trouble regulating responses such as having tantrums, impulsive behaviors, and being overly frustrated
- Poor motor skills like appearing clumsy or uncoordinated
- Difficulty paying attention and easily distracted
- Restricted eating patterns
- Aversion to grooming patterns like having hair or teeth brushed
- Difficulty with everyday habits like getting dressed, tying shoes, etc.
Sensory Processing Disorder in ChildrenSigns and symptoms of sensory processing disorder are typically noticed during the toddler years, when parents discover that their child has an aversion (or craving) for sensory input that other kids simply don’t seem to notice. Even when parents sense there is something wrong, they may find it difficult to receive an official diagnosis for sensory processing disorder. And while ADHD and sensory processing disorder often occur together or have overlapping symptoms, there are also crucial differences.4 Not all children with ADHD have sensory processing issues, and not all kids with sensory issues have ADHD. Knowing your child has sensory processing issues may help parents prepare for environments and situations that trigger your child while supporting them with healthy lifestyle habits. If you sense your child has sensory processing disorder, consider these tips:
- Follow a healthy diet and reduce the intake of simple sugars and simple carbs, which are known to exacerbate sensory issues5
- Have a regular bedtime and consistent exercise routine, which helps to control arousal levels
- Practice mindfulness techniques like meditation, which researchers have linked to positive results in patients with sensory issues6
- Limit screen time, which has been shown to negatively affect brain development7
- Consult an occupational therapist, who may use sensory processing integration techniques to nurture the brain-body connection
- Carry earplugs for those with noise sensitivities
- Warn your child ahead of time before changing a routine
- Allow your child to take regular breaks for self-regulation
References: 1https://chadd.org/adhd-weekly/new-research-in-sensory-processing-dysfunction/, 2https://www.additudemag.com/sensory-processing-disorder-overview-and-facts/, 3https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnana.2015.00169/full, 4https://www.understood.org/articles/en/the-difference-between-sensory-processing-issues-and-adhd, 5https://magazine.ucsf.edu/unbearable-sensation-being, 6https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0308022616656872, 7https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-019-00182-2
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