Sensory processing disorder

In sensory processing disorder the brain has difficulty organising sensory input.

The term sensory processing disorder is often bandied around – but what does it mean? Sensory processing (also known as sensory integration) is, in essence what your brain does with the information it receives from your senses.  Without even realising it our sense organs are constantly gathering information from the environment around us and our brains have to process all of this information so that they may elicit the appropriate response.  A sensory processing disorder means that the brain is not organising the information it receive from the senses correctly and so the body’s response to the sensory stimulus is affected.

A sensory processing difficulty could occur in just one sense like touching for example, or may occur in multiple senses.  It also tends to occurs within a broad spectrum of severity with some people being more affected than others. Sensory processing disorder may be very disruptive to everyday life as it may affect interactions with others, emotional responses to sensory input and effective learning and may result in behaviour challenges as children with sensory processing disorder  may have frequent meltdowns or tantrums.

Some may be super sensitive to sensory input and so may over-respond, while others might under-respond and show little to no reaction.  Children who need sensory input are often misdiagnosed as having ADHD because their constant need for stimulation might make them appear hyperactive. They may also constantly fidget or suck on their clothing or pencils.  Children who are over sensitive may not like to hug or be held and may dislike certain textures or foods.  And a difficulty in processing information from the muscles and joints might result in difficulties with gross motor and fine motor skills and posture.

Sensory processing disorder may occur on its own or may form part of another disorder, such as autism for instance.