The senses provide information from various modalities, vision, audition, tactile, olfactory, taste, proprioception, vestibular system, that humans need to proceed and respond with an adequate function. Sensory processing disorder is characterized by significant problems to organize sensation coming from the body and the environment and manifested by difficulties in the performance in one or more of the main areas of life:
productivity, leisure and play or activities of daily living.
Different people experience a wide range of difficulties when processing input coming from a variety of senses, particularly tactile (e.g. finding fabrics itchy and hard to wear while others don’t), vestibular (e.g. experiencing motion sickness while riding a car) and propioceptive (having difficulty grading the force to hold a pen in order to write). Symptoms may vary according to the disorder’s type and subtype present. SPD can affect one sense or multiple senses. While many people can present one or two symptoms, Sensory Processing Disorder has to have a clear functional impact on the person’s life.
People suffering from over-responsivity might:
• Dislike textures in fabrics, foods, grooming products or other materials found in daily living, to which most people would not react. This dislike interferes with normal function, for instance a child who refuses to wear socks or an adult who is so “picky” they can’t go to restaurants with friends
• Avoid crowds and noisy places
• Get so car sick they refuse to be in a moving vehicle
• Refuse to kiss or hug, not because they don’t like the person, but because the sensation of skin contact can be very negative
• Feel seriously discomforted, sick or threatened by normal sounds, lights, movements, smells, tastes, or even inner sensations such as heartbeat.
• Be picky eaters
• Have sleep disorders (waking up to minor sounds, problems getting sleep because of sensory overload)
• Babies can resist cuddling
• Find it difficult to self calm, feel constantly under stress
People suffering from under-responsivity:
• Show extreme difficulties waking up
• Appear unreactive and slow
• Be unaware of pain and/or other people
• Might appear deaf even when auditory function has been tested
• Child might be difficult being toilet trained, unaware of being wet or soiled
People suffering from sensory motor based problems might:
• Appear slow and uncoordinated
• Feel clumsy, slow, poor motor skills or handwriting
• Have poor posture
• Children might be delayed in crawling, standing, walking or running.
• Become verbose to avoid motor tasks
People suffering from sensory discrimination problems might:
• Drop things constantly
• Have poor handwriting
• Difficulty dressing and eating
• Use inappropriate force to handle objects
Should any of these systoms occur in a child then also read more about occupational therapy.