Educators and parents are more cognizant today about the various needs of their students and children. The lines between certain learning disabilities and conditions are not always easy to decipher, and this is especially true with a condition known as sensory processing disorder.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder (SPD), sometimes referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, involves the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and transforms them into appropriate motor functions and behavioral responses. When a child has SPD, his or her sensory signals are not organized into appropriate responses. This can present challenges when performing everyday tasks, says the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation. Clumsiness with regard to motor skills, behavioral problems, difficulties in school and anxiety are just some of the conditions that may result from SPD if no treatment is sought.
A person with SPD may find clothing, physical contact or some sort of sensory input, like light or sound, to be uncomfortable, while another may under-respond to certain stimulation, such as not reacting quickly enough to pain. Others with SPD may not have adequate motor skills, leading them to consistently fall or trip. Some people with SPD overly seek out stimulation and sensation to a point where they are often misdiagnosed with ADHD.
Detecting Sensory Processing Disorder
Identifying and understanding SPD is essential, as such an understanding can mean the difference between getting the right treatment or being misdiagnosed. Some people with SPD are medicated for other issues, when SPD really is the cause of their problems. A Pennsylvania injury attorney from Console and Associates PC can help in such cases.
SPD is most common in children, although it can occur in adults. The exact cause of the condition, and other neurodevelopmental disorders, have not been entirely identified. Doctors believe SPD is often inherited and SPD causes are ingrained in DNA. Prenatal and birth complications also have been implicated, and environmental factors may be involved. However, researchers believe SPD is the result of factors that are both genetic and environmental.
An accurate diagnosis of SPD means that most children will be treated with some form of occupational therapy. Listening therapy and other therapies may be combined. Therapy may take place in a sensory-rich location that is challenging but fun. Additional support may be needed in the classroom for school-aged children. Because kids with SPD have brains that are wired differently, they may require different approaches to learn their lessons. The disorder does not make them any less intelligent; it just means lessons need to be tailored to meet their needs.
The best course of action is to ask a doctor to conduct tests to determine if a child has SPD. Research shows that families who work together with educators, therapists and other family members have the highest levels of success with regard to making life easier for someone with sensory processing disorder. Furthermore, parents who suspect their child has SPD can refer to this checklist, which is available here. A child may not exhibit all signs of SPD, but the list can be a good starting point for conversations with a doctor.