Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children as well as adults. Individuals with SPD misinterpret everyday sensory information received from the five senses: touch, vision, sound, smell, and taste. In addition, there are two senses that are rarely heard of: the vestibular and the proprioceptive systems. The vestibular system has functions located in the base of the brain (cerebellum), the upper part of the neck (cervical spine) and the inner ear. It is the “chief regulator” of ALL incoming sensory information and is considered the most important sensory system. The proprioceptive system is located through-out the spine as well as all other joints of the body. Some people with SPD feel bombarded by sensory information; others seek out intense sensory experiences or have other problems. SPD can lead to behavioral problems, difficulties with coordination or attention, learning disorders, low self-esteem and a variety of other issues. Individuals may also become socially isolated and have trouble in school or work.
Children with SPD are often misunderstood and labeled as aggressive, clumsy, inattentive, or “difficult”. They may also be diagnosed as having ADD, ADHD, or other diagnosis’s under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder. SPD can also co-exist with these disorders as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and others. The neurological disorganization resulting in SPD can occur three different ways: the brain does not receive messages due to a disconnection in the nerve cells; sensory messages are received inconsistently; or sensory messages are received consistently, but do not connect properly with other sensory messages. When the brain poorly processes sensory messages, inefficient motor, language, or emotional output is the result.
Properly functioning vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems are the two key components in developing a healthy sensory processing system. Because these two sensory systems are housed in the spine, it is essential that children and adults with signs of SPD be evaluated by a chiropractor for vertebral subluxations (misalignments) of the spine that may be causing interference within the brain and sensory systems.
How do I know if my child has SPD?
A few symptoms that children with SPD may exhibit:
- Loves to spin, swing and jump; can’t sit still. Or, really dislikes to spin or swing.
- Complains of how clothing feels, does not like tags left in their clothing and has to have their socks on just so; may be fidgety.
- Picky eaters.
- Oversensitivity to smells. Or undersensitivity–may sniff people, objects, food.
- Oversensitivity to sounds–will frequently cover ears or have difficulty concentrating in a noisy environment.
- May have an exceptionally high or low pain tolerance.
- Sits with poor posture “slumper”. Seems to tire easily.
- Resists new situations; doesn’t like changes in routine.
- Problems with muscle tone, coordination, motor planning.
- Can be very impulsive or distractible.
- Likes to pinch, push, or crash into things (couches, pillows, beds).
- Persistently walks on toes to avoid sensory input from the bottom of the feet.
- There may also be a history of a traumatic or difficult birth, c-section, or breech birth.
- It is estimated that as many as 1/20 children may suffer from SPD!
Connections Achievement and Therapy Center offers the latest technology and methods for treating SPD. If you think your child may be having sensory processing issues, make an appointment with our specialist today!