Problems with Sensory Processing?

by Celina
(Nashville, AL)

9 yr old boy responds to all questions with "I don't know." Behaves badly when with other children.

Question: My 9 yr old son has behavioral problems at school and with other children in any setting. He tries to wrestle everyone, if there are children at a party he will pick them up and try to body slam them or whatever including his 2yr old brother and has a severe conflict with his 7 yr old sister.

His sister will fight back and usually gets hurt. When we try to talk with him, he will never answer as to why he does certain things except with "I don't know." He will sit for an hour and never say anything except that.

We have to go behind him in the mornings or any time to make sure he combs his hair, puts his clothes on correctly, gets his belongings together to go to school or whatever. He has a real problem with eating certain foods and always has, especially anything green in color; anything.

He gets hypnotized with the television and will watch it forever. He is very good at sports and is a star in some areas. He sometimes acts as if he doesn't know what to say but acts like a stubborn donkey, he just boughs down.

He is a very loving child most of the time, but he seems to
have definite issues with thinking about what he does before he does it. He seems to act on his impulses and doesn't think about it. He used to steal. Any suggestions?

Answer: It sounds like he may have some difficulties with sensory processing. For some children that have difficulties with this they can either be hyposensitive to certain stimuli, hypersensitive (food textures/colors included), sensory seeking (frequently attempting to wrestle included), or a combination of these.

It can mostly involve one or more of the senses and one specific effect can be difficulties organizing activities of daily living (getting dressed) that can include coordination. Many children will have a hard time playing sports, but some may be great at gross motor activities and have problems with fine motor activities.

There isn't always a clear cut set of symptoms and each child will be different. Working with an occupational therapist that has experience with sensory integration to develop a daily sensory diet is a great place to start. I would review my pages on SPD and determine whether you think this may be an issue for him and then talk to your pediatrician to get him evaluated by an OT.

It's amazing the difference some simple sensory activities can make in a child's ability to organize information and satisfy the need for sensory input that he is trying to get by wrestling with others. Good luck!

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Could my daughter have SPD?

by Annie

Question: My daughter is 8 and currently receives speech therapy when in school. I think she may have SPD and was wondering if someone could give me some advice.

She is well liked at school by her teachers and her friends. She is definitely a pleaser. She never gets into trouble at school and will even separate herself from her peers if she believes they are doing something that will get them in trouble. It concerns me that more often than not she chooses to play alone or with one other child.

She often tells her classmate she just wants to be alone when they ask her to play. Sometimes, she pretends that she does not hear others talking to her and she will even turn away from them if they continue to talk to her. She has a hard time with subs when her teacher is out and often refuses to go to school assemblies because she is afraid. Once she told the school nurse she was sick and need to go home. She waited for me under her desk with her jacket over her head.

She has never liked wearing clothes and will not wear clothes with tags or that are itchy. She prefers skirts or dress and says blue jeans make her legs burn and will only wear them with tights. Shoes also make her feet too hot and she prefers not to wear them.

When she was younger she would scream and rock if we were at a restaurant and someone sang "happy birthday" or if it were very noisy. She does better in situations like that now, but has started squeezing her arm and opening her mouth for a really wide stretch. She does that more when she is angry or upset. She also jumps up and down a lot or runs swinging her arm wildly if she has to sit still for a long time and more so after school. She started to realize when she needs to stim and goes to her room or bathroom if possible.

She has horrible handwriting, can’t tie her shoe, or hold a fork and spoon correctly no matter how many times she is corrected. She is very messy and her clothes are always twisted.
I could go on and on. She has an appointment with her DR. in a couple of weeks…I hope to get a referral for OT..What else do I need to do?


Answer: It sounds like your daughter definitely has some sensory issues. Talking to your doctor to get a referral for OT is a good place to start. She could greatly benefit from an occupational therapist regardless of whether she has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) to help with her fine motor skills (handwriting/eating utensils) and stimulatory behavior.

Make sure that the OT has a lot of experience with sensory integration or else you may not get the right help you are looking for. A developmental pediatrician may be able to help you with other therapists in your area that could help with more specific issues you are dealing with.

You may also click the following link to find a list of additional SPD treatment options that you may want to research further to determine if these are right for your daughter. Good luck!

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Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms?

by Charlene

My Child's Behavior at 4 Years Old

Question: If my child has problems with his behavior can he stay at after school clubs for free? If my child flaps his hands a lot when excite and shows aggression when excited also, doesn't seem to listen, runs around a lot and can't seem to sit still for long, what can this be?

Answer It sounds like these may be sensory processing disorder symptoms. I'm not sure if he would qualify for after school clubs, but I recommend contacting your local school district and ask that he be evaluated by whatever early intervention program is available in your area.

Even if he does not qualify for services, receiving occupational therapy could greatly help his behavior and sensory related issues. However, getting him evaluated to know for certain why he is behaving this way would be your first step.

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Slow Processing Speed

Question: My son needs extra time to process information. What can I do to help him improve his ability to process information?

Answer: This is common in children that have sensory processing disorder and also children with signs of ADHD.

Distractions can make it more difficult to process information, so making sure the TV or radio is turned off at times you want him to focus and pay attention is important.

You can work on teaching him to look at your mouth when you are speaking and possibly even learn sign language together. Sometimes individuals that have a hard time processing auditory information are better at processing visual information. If he can read you could also write things down to help him process things better as well.

You may want to investigate whether he has a gluten or casein intolerance. These can cause an opiate effect on the brain that presents itself as spaciness and difficulty focusing/concentrating. You can read more about that on my page autism causes under the headline 'Opiate Theory.' You may notice frequent runny bowels or constipation if this is a problem.

A diet heavy in sugars and carbohydrates may also make it difficult to process information when blood sugar is too high or too low following the high. Trying to have more complex carbohydrates that do not produce this roller coaster effect on blood sugar can help.

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Symptoms of neurological imbalance?

Student leaves one side of body disengaged while working. Only uses right side. Left side lies limp.

Question: I have a student diagnosed with "Processing disorder". I have observed that he never or seldom uses his left hand to hold paper or work in conjunction with his right hand. His left leg is positioned high up on his right thigh. Is this a symptom of some neurological imbalance. He is bright but extremely slow and all things mechanical are extremely challenging to him.

Answer: One category of sensory processing disorder is referred to as developmental dyspraxia. This is a brain dysfunction that hinders the organization of tactile, vestibular or proprioceptive stimuli. As a result the body is unable to properly motor plan.

Also, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. In order for both to work together their must be communication between the two sides of the brain. Often times with sensory processing disorders, the brain does not effectively communicate between the two sides causing poor motor coordination.

You may recommend that he recieve some help from an occupational therapist with sensory integration experience.

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