Sensory Processing Disorder

SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is Sensory Integration?

Humans require sensory input in order to understand and navigate their environment. Input received from sensory receptors in various organs such as the skin, eyes, nose, and ears is passed on to the brain where it is processed and analyzed. The brain then formulates an appropriate response and relays instructions to execute this response to organs or limbs involved. This process is known as sensory integration.

SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDERIn performing this complex role, the brain must also take into account factors such as the cultural or social appropriateness of its responses and actions.

This process of sensory integration is ongoing on and we are usually not even aware of its complexity and importance.

However, at times there can be difficulties or errors that complicate or disrupt it, creating abnormal reactions that are out of proportion with the degree of stimulus. Such disorders may be referred to as sensory integration dysfunction or sensory processing disorders. These disorders are not well understood. Fortunately, there are a variety of therapies available to help alleviate them.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

This is a generic term used to refer to a range of disorders characterized by difficulties in the accurate and appropriate integration of sensory input. Hence, another name for this disorder is sensory integration dysfunction. Those suffering from it tend to be either over-sensitive or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli. Their reactions do not match with those of others who are exposed to the same stimuli.

Some patients are unable to tolerate certain sensations, often ones that are a part of the normal everyday environment. Normal sensory stimuli may elicit disproportionate responses such as vomiting or alarm.  Alternatively, others may fail to respond even to extreme changes in environment or significant injury that should normally induce pain response. This can affect children as well as adults. The condition can be mild or severe enough to impair day to day functioning of the individual. One sense may be affected or several. There may also be disproportionate emotional responses, leading to temper tantrums in children or mood swings in adults.

What Causes It?

Sensory processing autismSensory processing disorder is considered to occur as a result of errors in processing multisensory input.

There may be difficulty in both receiving and responding to the input. The exact cause for this dysfunction is not well understood.

Generally, research shows that the symptoms have a neurological basis and some studies indicate that there may be an underlying genetic factor responsible for this. Statistics show that it tends to affect boys more often than girls.

What Are The Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory processing disorder can take on a variety of manifestations of varying severity. Any of the sensory abilities or faculties of perception may be affected. Accordingly, there is a very wide spectrum of possible symptoms.

Patients may remain unaware of sensations that others can experience. Alternatively, they may be overwhelmed by sensory input in situations where others are able to pick one stimulus to concentrate on while tuning out others. This is a complex condition expressed through a combination of physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. Different individuals are affected differently. Symptoms like these are sometimes seen in otherwise healthy children. Often, these tend to go away by adulthood. Sometimes, they persist and result in a variety of difficulties in day to day functioning. The list below enumerates a variety of symptoms and several conflicts with others in the list. This is a reflection of the variation in manifestations of SPD.

  • Aversion to some sensations such as certain sounds, tastes or textures.
  • Lack of response to certain stimuli that should otherwise elicit a response such as pain.
  • Temper tantrums.
  • Avoidance of eye contact.
  • Having very strong preferences in terms of foods and clothing and a strong resistance to deviations from these preferences.
  • A dislike of being touched.
  • Dislike of grooming activities such as bathing, cutting hair or nails and brushing of hair.
  • Inability to remain still, and a tendency to be hyperactive.
  • Difficulty accepting changes in routine.
  • Difficulty in learning new activities or skills.
  • Challenges in executing tasks involving fine motor skills.
  • Frequent variations in moods and fluctuations in behavior.
  • Difficulty in following instructions.
  • Socially disruptive or ‘inappropriate’ behavior
  • Poor articulation.
  • Being clumsy or having a reduced ability to judge the positions of objects relative to oneself and other objects.
  • Chronic lethargy.
  • Having a floppy, hypotonic body.

This list above is not comprehensive, but it serves to give a sense of the range of difficulties that individuals suffering from SPD have to contend with.

What are the Different Types of Sensory Processing Disorder?

There are multiple categories and subtypes of SPD. A few of these are:

Sensory processing strokeSensory Modulation Disorder: This is generally characterized by an inability to respond in a manner that is proportionate to the degree and nature of the sensory stimulus. It can take three forms.

  • The patient may be under-responsive to stimulation. In other words, their response may be absent, delayed or less intense than those offered by others in the same situation.
  • Alternatively, they may be hypersensitive to certain stimuli. Normal stimuli can elicit disproportionately severe responses such as vomiting or screaming. Responses may also occur too soon or be prolonged beyond the normal tendency. Patients generally appear withdrawn, passive and isolated.
  • The third form is known as sensory seeking. Such patients have an intense craving for certain sensory experiences and arrange their behaviors in such a way as to achieve this stimulation. However, these cravings tend to remain unfulfilled which means that inappropriate behaviors will continue. Common manifestations of this occur in the form of hyperactivity, constantly touching things, being overly affectionate etc.

Sensory-Based Motor Disorder: A normal individual is able to execute tasks by planning them in advance and then executing them in a controlled and sequential manner. The process adapts to unforeseen changes as it goes along and this requires a combination of cognitive, sensory and motor faculties. Individuals with sensory-based motor disorders often find it challenging to achieve this seamless integration of functions. Broadly, this disorder can take two forms:

    • Postural disorder. Such individuals are unable to maintain physical control of their bodies in order to adopt postures necessary to execute tasks. Such individuals are unable to process information accurately enough to be able to plan a series of actions in advance or to formulate a goal to achieve. They tend to have difficulty executing tasks that involve fine motor coordination. They may compensate for this with verbalization or fantasies.
  • Sensory Discrimination Disorder: Individuals with this form of SPD typically face difficulties in processing sensory input in such a way as to be able to distinguish between or identify different stimuli. They take longer than others to understand or process input as a result of which their motor abilities may also suffer. This can make them appear inattentive and impassive.

How Does It Affect Growth and Personality In The Long Term?

Individuals with mild cases of SPD may be able to lead normal lives with minimal impairment. However, when there are severe challenges faced in sensory integration, there can be any number of complications.

The individual may be prone to injury, may have learning difficulties and low self-esteem as a result. They may find it difficult to relate with the experiences and abilities of others, becoming withdrawn or emotionally isolated. There can be challenges in forming close interpersonal relationships and friendships.

Having SPD can also make it difficult to accurately execute day to day tasks or occupational tasks. This condition can interfere with learning and play in childhood and work in adulthood. Hypersensitivity can make the patient feel like their senses are overloaded and they feel an uncontrollable compulsion to respond in certain ways. In children this can manifest in the form of tantrums, screaming or other forms of socially disruptive behavior, making it hard for them to gain approval from peers and adults.

Sensory processing disorders also tend to be present alongside other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger syndrome, autism, learning disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Diagnosing Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory processing disorder is not formally recognized as a distinct clinical condition. Nor is this condition well understood. As a result, patients and their families may find it difficult to understand their problems and obtain a helpful diagnosis. Additionally, difficulties with processing sensory input may appear as part of the spectrum of autistic disorders. Often, these symptoms overlap to a great extent with those of other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In fact, both disorders are often present side by side in a single individual, complicating the process of diagnosis. Occupational therapists trained in recognizing and treating sensory integration dysfunction can provide the necessary understanding and help.

Treatment

  • The basic treatment method is to teach children how to go about daily tasks in a fun way. Doctors set challenges in a way that the child would find it to be a game. This treatment method is known as sensory integration.
  • Another treatment method is when parents tend to share the same interests and indulge in activities with their children. Doing the same activities that the children do to understand them more.
  • The second phase of this treatment is when the child is made to share the same world as their parent, to help them understand as to how things are done. This treatment method is known as developmental, individual difference Relationship-based (DIR) model.

Prevention – Since the actual cause of this disorder is unknown, there are no sure shot ways to prevent it.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Provide them with a healthy and wholesome diet; they need all the nutrition that they can get.
  • Learn the child, try and understand what they like and do not.
  • Ensure that you are patient with the child.  This helps in making them feel loved and understood.
Don'ts
  • Try diets that are not wholesome, these diets tend to eliminate foods that are essential for the individual and provide them with the necessary nutrients.
  • Ask questions if you know that the patient will be unable to answer it. This is important as it could affect the patient’s confidence level.
  • Lose your temper; this is of utmost importance, as the patient needs to know as to what they did wrong and how they can correct their mistakes.

 

 

 

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Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
hepatitis B envelope antigen
Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg) The HBeAg or hepatitis B envelope antigen test is a screening test used to diagnose the onset of…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
beta 2 glycoprotein 1 igm
Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgM The Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgM test detects IgM class of antibodies in the blood.The presence of beta-2…
beta alanine energy powder
Beta-alanine: A powerhouse of proteins to charge up your workout How can a simple amino acid be a crucial health supplement for champion athletes? Find out how you…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Bloodtestalbumin
Albumin Test Albumin test or blood serum test is a liver function test that measures the amount of the protein…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…

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