Possible Signs and Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder

It’s pretty well known and generally accepted that most children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have trouble integrating sensory input. More recently, researchers, teachers, and health care professionals are beginning to understand that children who aren’t on the spectrum also experience these issues to varying degrees. Now just because a child may seem quirky or particular about their likes and dislikes, it does not indicate that the child has a Sensory Processing Disorder (also called Sensory Integration Dysfunction). When a person has SPD, he or she will be so severely affected by their sensory preferences that it interferes with their normal, everyday functioning. According to Brain Balance Achievement Centers, sensory issues can be defined as either hypersensitivity (over-responsiveness) or hyposensitivity (under-responsiveness) to sensory stimuli. Below, find some common signs of Sensory Processing Disorder.

Hypersensitivities to sensory input may include:

  • Extreme response to or fear of sudden, high-pitched, loud, or metallic noises like flushing toilets, clanking silverware, or other noises that seem unoffensive to others
  • May notice and/or be distracted by background noises that others don’t seem to hear
  • Fearful of surprise touch, avoids hugs and cuddling even with familiar adults
  • Seems fearful of crowds or avoids standing in close proximity to others
  • Doesn’t enjoy a game of tag and/or is overly fearful of swings and playground equipment
  • Extremely fearful of climbing or falling, even when there is no real danger i.e. doesn’t like his or her feet to be off the ground
  • Has poor balance, may fall often

Hyposensitivities to sensory input may include:

  • A constant need to touch people or textures, even when it’s inappropriate to do so
  • Doesn’t understand personal space even when same-age peers are old enough to understand it
  • Clumsy and uncoordinated movements
  • An extremely high tolerance for or indifference to pain
  • Often harms other children and/or pets when playing, i.e. doesn’t understand his or her own strength
  • May be very fidgety and unable to sit still, enjoys movement-based play like spinning, jumping, etc.
  • Seems to be a “thrill seeker” and can be dangerous at times
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