Could Your Child’s Behavior Actually Be Sensory Processing Disorder?


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What does Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) look like?

As a parent, I have seen a child who can be so fun and so smart turn into someone I don’t know or understand at the blink of an eye. I have watched as he cries because his socks “don’t like his feet”. I have endured yelling, screaming and fits all because something didn’t go as planned.

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Could your child’s behavior issues actually be sensory processing disorder (SPD)?

Have you ever wondered if your child’s behavior is truly a behavior issue or could it really be something else? Many times it is hard to tell if a behavior is truly a behavior or if your child is reacting to sensory problems in their body!

So is your child’s behavior a behavior issue or sensory?  If sensory relates to the sensation or physical senses and a definition of behavior is the way in which a person acts in response to a particular “stimulus” (or sensation), then YES, behaviors can happen because of sensory problems.

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What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration is “the central nervous system translating information into action”. Basically, it means that the behavior we exhibit is linked to neurological processes in our brain.
    • In layman’s terms: Everything we feel or experience, from wind on our face to driving a car is processed in our brain. If a child has an unusual response, then their brain isn’t processing what they feel or experience accurately.
Through meaningful sensory activities and a child’s inherent motivation, the child is able to make adaptive responses. This allows them to have more organized behaviors.
    • In layman’s terms: When a kid wants to participate in sensory play (to them it is just play), they adjust how they are playing based on what they are experiencing/feeling.

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How Can You Have Sensory Integration as Sensory Play?

Whether children are hypersensitive (over sensitive), hyposensitive, or neurotypical children with no sensory issues – sensory play is beneficial to every child to help them to understand the world around them.

Sensory play is often thought of just as messy play, and although lots of sensory play ideas can be messy – it is not just all about messy play but any play involving the senses.

  • Touch which can be exploring textures
  • Taste
  • Sight which could be exploring colors and light
  • Sound
  • Smell

It helps with creativity, problem solving, and supports their brain development!

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What Are Sensory Play Activities?

Go on a Sound Walk

Play in the Dirt

Play in the Mud

Create Sensory Bins

Sensory bins are a great way for children to learn using all 5 senses at once. Child development theorist Jean Piaget described the way children learn by calling them “little scientists“. Through sensory play and sensory bins children are using the scientific method and are also building pre-math skills, fine motor skills, language skills, imaginative play, and much much more. Not only that but sensory bins are so visually appealing and fun!

Most sensory bins have a base which is usually made with rice or another sensory material. Next you add other items including scooping materials such as spoons, measuring cups, etc for scooping and pouring. Add other items.

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If you are interested in learning more about sensory processing disorder, I highly recommend reading The Out-of-Sync Child and The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder.