Sensory Processing Dysfunction

Sensory Processing Dysfunction

In today’s post we are continuing the conversation about Sensory Processing. We shared an introduction to Sensory Processing with you in our last blog post. Now we’re going to follow up with a more detailed description of what Sensory Processing Dysfunction (or Disorder) (SPD) entails, and the different categories of SPD.

When the sensory systems experience a dysfunction, the type of dysfunction can will fall within these three categories:

  • Sensory Modulation Disorder
  • Sensory-Based Motor Disorder
  • Sensory Discrimination Disorder

Sensory Modulation Disorder

With a Sensory Modulation Disorder, a child will have difficulty with understanding and responding functionally to the volume and duration of sensory input that most people are able to tolerate.

Their responses may be much more than expected, much less than expected, or they may take much longer to recover from sensory input if they are over-responsive to sensory input.

If they are under-responsive to sensory input, they may appear unaware of the sensory input they are receiving, demonstrate a delay to the sensory input, or may have a diminished response to the sensory input.

A sensory seeker or craver will actively look for sensory input. But instead of reaching a level of “fullness” or satisfaction, they end up dysregulated instead.

Sensory-Based Motor Disorder

Children with a Sensory-Based Motor Disorder often appear extremely clumsy.

Dyspraxia/Apraxia is a disorder in which the child demonstrates difficulty with planning and executing coordinated movements, whether they are familiar movements or new-to-them movements.

Postural Disorder is characterized by poor core stability, appearing weak, poor endurance, and limited body awareness.

Sensory Discrimination Disorder

The child with a Sensory Discrimination Disorder will have difficulty being able to recognize subtle differences in sensory input. They may need additional sensory support to help them achieve tasks such as being able to look at what is in their hand to be able to tell if it is an oval rock or an egg, or if they have a dime or a quarter in their pocket.

These three categories are very helpful for understanding the different dysfunctions that can occur in a Sensory Processing Disorder. However, it is important to note that they rarely ever happen in isolation. More often than not, a child will experience two, or all three, of the disorder categories at the same time.

Because our brains become less “plastic” as we age, the sooner you get help for a Sensory Processing Disorder, the more quickly it can be improved.

Now that we have a better understanding of what is involved in a Sensory Dysfunction, we are going to dive a little deeper into the individual sensory systems in a future post.

If you think your child has a Sensory Processing Disorder and you’d like help, you can call to schedule a free 20-minute phone consultation with one of our experienced Occupational Therapists.

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