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Monday, February 26, 2018

A guide to Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

First off in order to understand what SPD is, you first need to understand what the sensory system even is. This system is what helps us experience and process all the information around us. In people with Sensory Processing Disorder, their bodies have a hard time processing this information around them. They can become very overwhelmed with all the sights, smells, and sounds that people normally don't even really think about. Our whole lives we were taught that we have 5 senses, when in reality we really have 7!

Our visual sense is all things that pertain to vision and what we see. Light, colors, everything we see around us. Hearing, or our auditory sense, is the sounds around us. How loud or how quiet something is, how much sound is actually around us. Smell, or olfactory sense, is of course anything we smell. There can be good and bad smells, some things have a faint smell, and others have a very strong smell. Taste, or oral, is how we taste things. Our taste buds are a part of this sense and they can taste, sweet, sour, salty, bitter. Touch, or tactile is how things feel with any part of our body. We think of just touching with our hands, but we can touch with our feet, mouths and any part and it may feel different depending what part we are feeling with. Proprioception deals with where our bodies are in space. Our movements, how much pressure we put on something, that is all proprioception.  The vestibular sense deals with balance, gravity, and head movement.

Now with SPD people can be seekers or avoiders and may not have trouble with every sense. Here is a list of the different senses and how seekers and avoiders may react to these senses.

Vision- Seekers will look for bright lights and colors and deal very well with visual chaos. Avoiders may get headaches or squint a lot with sunlight and bright lights. They may cover their eyes a lot, avoid visual chaos or clutter, and seek out lighter colors.

Hearing- Seekers like to make a lot of noise and tolerate a lot of noise, they like fast paced music and enjoy having music on all the time. On the other hand avoiders cover their ears often and hate loud noises. They will often say that it is too loud.

Touch- Seekers will try to touch everything and anything. They love feeling different textures and usually have no troubles with clothing. They often have a high pain tolerance. Avoiders can be picky eaters because they don't like certain textures. They may also have trouble with different clothing textures and won't touch some textures. They often hate being dirty.

Taste- Seekers love trying foods and things with different and often strong flavors. They might put everything in their mouths. Avoiders often like bland foods and may even be picky about the temperature of their food.

Smell- Seekers will smell everything while avoiders often plug their noses and may get headaches from smells.

Proprioception- Seekers love to rough play. They love to hug and be hugged tight. They may often be aggressive and may not know their own strength. Avoiders like to avoid anything rough or tight. They may have trouble with knowing where their bodies are in space and may have troubles gripping objects or pushing as they have trouble with knowing how much pressure to use.

Vestibular- Seekers love swinging, jumping, and spinning. You might often see them randomly spinning in circles. They also like tipping backwards. Avoiders are fearful of having their head tipped backwards. They may be fearful of heights and don't like swinging or spinning.

Now you have to remember there are some people who may have a mix. They may be seekers for some senses and avoiders in others. Just as with any other condition, no 2 people with sensory processing disorder are alike. Some may have SPD very mildly and others may not notice and others may have it severe and very noticeable.

People, and especially kids with SPD may sometimes get very overwhelmed with everything going on around them. They may not have the words to say that they are over or under stimulated and end up having behaviors. Others may see these behaviors as kids misbehaving, when in reality that is far from the truth. These behaviors can appear in any way from withdrawing, exploding, whining, screaming, hitting, or anything else imaginable.

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