Sensory Processing Disorder

Written by ann mountz
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Sensory processing disorder is a neurological disorder characterised by sensory reactions that interfere with daily life. Your brain learns to process information to tell you a train is coming, where your body is in space or to ignore the feel of clothes on your back. The sound of that train or the feel of the clothes, though, may overwhelm people with sensory processing disorder. They may be unable to identify where their body is in space, which creates difficulty with skills like learning to write.


Typically, people talk about five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. Two other senses, however, are also important in sensory processing disorder: vestibular, the sense of movement, and proprioception, the sense of position.


The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation details three subtypes: sensory modulation disorder, sensory discrimination disorder and sensory-based motor disorder.


Symptoms of sensory processing disorder vary based on age, which senses are affected, and which subtype of sensory processing disorder a person has. Symptoms include covering the ears from everyday noises, extremely picky eating, refusal to wear certain clothes and difficulty with handwriting.


The Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT) is currently the primary tool used to diagnose sensory processing disorder in children age 4 to 8. Other screening tools are used to people outside of that age range, but they are less comprehensive.


Therapy for sensory processing disorder is most often performed by an occupational therapist in a fun, sensory-filled environment. Listening therapy and brushing therapy also frequently help.

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