What is spd?
WHAT IS SPD?
Sensory processing (sometimes called "sensory integration" or SI) refers to the way in which the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Every single task, even those as simple as biting into an apple, reading a book or those more complex such as riding a bicycle, require successful integration of the senses.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals are not translated into appropriate behavioural responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, compared SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" where sensory signals are cross wired and thus misinterpreted. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses. This creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks such as dressing, feeding and grooming. Motor clumsiness, behavioural problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and social isolation are common outcomes of SPD, especially if not treated early on.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly also experience sensory processing difficulties however SPD often exists without the presence of an ASD diagnosis.
A research study by the Sensory Processing Disorder Scientific Work Group (Ben-Sasson, Carter, Briggs-Gowen, 2009) suggests that 1 in every 6 children experiences sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday life functions. Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder, occur across a broad spectrum of severity. While most of us have occasional difficulties processing sensory information, for children and adults with SPD, these difficulties are chronic, and they interfere with everyday life.
WHAT SPD LOOKS LIKE
Sensory Processing Disorder can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In a child whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. This can often be seen in "floppy babies" who worry new parents and the kids who are perceived to be clumsy or accident-prone on the playground. Yet on the other side of the coin are the kids who simply cannot get enough input and appear to always be on-the-go. These kids often are labeled as naughty or misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD. It is not uncommon for kids to display over sensitivity in one system such as touch, whilst being seeking in another system such as the vestibular or proprioceptive system. There is no clear cut pattern to how SPD looks which can make it very confusing for parents and for the kids themselves.
Early Warning signs of SPD
SPD FOUNDATION CHECKLIST FOR SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER
Infant/ Toddler Checklist:
____ My infant/toddler has problems eating.
____ My infant/toddler refused to go to anyone but me.
____ My infant/toddler has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
____ My infant/toddler is extremely irritable when I dress him/her; seems to be uncomfortable in clothes.
____ My infant/toddler rarely plays with toys, especially those requiring dexterity.
____ My infant/toddler has difficulty shifting focus from one object/activity to another.
____ My infant/toddler does not notice pain or is slow to respond when hurt.
____ My infant/toddler resists cuddling, arches back away from the person holding him.
____ My infant/toddler cannot calm self by sucking on a pacifier, looking at toys, or listening to my voice.
____ My infant/toddler has a "floppy" body, bumps into things and has poor balance.
____ My infant/toddler does little or no babbling, vocalizing.
____ My infant/toddler is easily startled.
____ My infant/toddler is extremely active and is constantly moving body/limbs or runs endlessly.
____ My infant/toddler seems to be delayed in crawling, standing, walking or running.
____ My child has difficulty being toilet trained.
____ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
____ My child is unaware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force/intensity.
____ My child has difficulty learning and/or avoids performing fine motor tasks such as using crayons and fasteners on clothing.
____ My child seems unsure how to move his/her body in space, is clumsy and awkward.
____ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks.
____ My child is in constant motion.
____ My child gets in everyone else's space and/or touches everything around him.
____ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
____ My child is intense, demanding or hard to calm and has difficulty with transitions.
____ My child has sudden mood changes and temper tantrums that are unexpected.
____ My child seems weak, slumps when sitting/standing; prefers sedentary activities.
____ It is hard to understand my child's speech.
____ My child does not seem to understand verbal instructions.
___ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
___ My child is easily distracted in the classroom, often out of his/her seat, fidgety.
___ My child is easily overwhelmed at the playground, during recess and in class.
___ My child is slow to perform tasks.
___ My child has difficulty performing or avoids fine motor tasks such as handwriting.
___ My child appears clumsy and stumbles often, slouches in chair.
___ My child craves rough housing, tackling/wrestling games.
___ My child is slow to learn new activities.
___ My child is in constant motion.
___ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks and prefers sedentary activities.
___ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
___ My child 'gets stuck' on tasks and has difficulty changing to another task.
___ My child confuses similar sounding words, misinterprets questions or requests.
___ My child has difficulty reading, especially aloud.
___ My child stumbles over words; speech lacks fluency, and rhythm is hesitant.
Reference: SPD Foundation webpage where more information can be found