What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Very simply- Your brain and nervous system are constantly taking in messages from the world through your senses. There are some that are simply being overloaded and overstimulated by our world.
They include five basic senses which are familiar with:
1. Visual - your eyes
2. Auditory - your eyes
3. Tactile- which is your sense of touch
4. Gustatory - your taste
5. Olfactory - your smell
The less unknown senses include three more for sensory integration:
1.Tactile - again your sense of touch
2. Vestibule - your sense of moving your head and spatial movement
3.Proprioceptive - your sense of moving your muscles and joints in your body
The last and newest sense is:
1. Interoception- this sense includes your internal organs
For more detail descriptions on these senses- please see the Star Institute where this is referenced from:
Your reaction to stimuli through your senses is constant. You are taking input through these senses can be where the sensory overload of information can begin to send mixed signals to your nervous system and brain. This is called Sensory-over responsive or under-responsive, hypersensitive, and hypersensitive among some other subtypes for this disorder.
In the last several years, there have been many researchers confirming that the messages from the senses to the brain get misinterpreted in a select number in the population. Therefore, Sensory Processing Disorder has gained more medical acceptance, however, it is still not in the DSM5 or Diagnostic and Statistic Manual for Therapists. Throughout the years sensory issues have become more and more common in adults, teens, and children. Sometimes being diagnosed with Attention Deficit, Anxiety, and Depression, these people may struggle with a variety of symptoms that can look harmless on one level and devastating when you put all the pieces together. It can cause many issues such as educational, relational, and occupational to name only a few, without intervention and treatment.
As quoted from Star Institute and research.
One study (Ahn, Miller, Milberger, McIntosh, 2004) shows that at least 1 in 20 children’s daily life is affected by SPD. Another research study by Alice Carter and colleagues who are members of the Sensory Processing Disorder Scientific Work Group (Ben-Sasson, Carter, Briggs-Gowen, 2009) suggests that 1 in every 6 children experiences sensory symptoms that may be significant enough to affect aspects of everyday life functions. https://www.spdstar.org/basic/about-spd
In my experience, adults and teens that have sensory issues come into my office for disorders that are combined with concerns like Anxiety, ADHD, and Depression to name a few. Unfortunately, they tend to be frustrated by the lack of understanding and overwhelming lack of answers experienced through some of the mental health, medical professionals, and sometimes parents.
Many people who are struggling with this neurological disorder are living today without having the tools or coping skills to function with this disorder. It is important that awareness if the first step and moving on towards healing and treatment from there. It is also important that they receive unconditional support from their families, as many times this disorder causes insecurities, self-doubt, and many other problems that have life long consequences. Support and acceptance are important messages to receive from their closest family members when the world at times seems to be giving messages they are "not normal or "feel attacked by the world". Without support, most will not accept and move forward with the uncomfortable task of learning new ways of coping with the mixed messages and overwhelming ways their brain sometimes work.
Signs and Symptoms of Adults to Adolescents
Adults/Teens: (These symptoms have been present since childhood except by this time in your life you have compensated and found ways to soothe yourself)
So how does it feel?
Do you feel bothered by certain textures or clothes such as jean are too rough?
Do you feel annoyed or anxious if someone is too close or touching you?
Do you feel anxious or annoyed when in a crowded room or claustrophobic?
Do you get lost easily or disoriented easily even in places that are familiar?
Do you have a difficult time telling if your hands or dirty or clean?
Do you have a difficult time blocking out noise/distractions when talking to someone?
Do you break things easily by pushing too hard or grab someone too hard and "don't know your own strength?
Do you confuse the left and right sides frequently?
Do you feel overwhelmed and overstimulated if you have talked to people all day and may get very annoyed easily?
Do you avoid eye contact when tired or end of the day?
Do you feel overwhelmed or tired when around people or out in a busy/loud environment too long?
Do you have a difficult time telling if you are hungry or not?
Do you have a difficult time to regulate body temperature?
Do you trip over things easily or others call you clumsy?
Do you have a difficult time with an organization or completing tasks but like starting new tasks?
Do you "zone out" completely even to a point that you do not hear someone calling your name?
For a complete and thorough list see the following:
(This is not a diagnostic tool or a complete list. It is only a checklist for what some people who have sensory issues.)
Please call for an appointment if this sounds like this may be a concern or something you
have been coping with since childhood.
Books that may help on Sensory Issues:
Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues Paperback use pre formatted date that complies with legal requirement from media matrix – February 15, 2016
The Goodenoughs Get in Sync: 5 Family Members Overcome their Special Sensory Issues Paperback use pre formatted date that complies with legal requirement from media matrix – April 1, 2010
by Carol Kranowitz (Author)
The Out-of-Sync Child Grows Up: Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder in the Adolescent and Young Adult Years Paperback– May 24, 2016
Sharon Heller Paperback
Sensory Processing 101Paperback– September 9, 2015
The Everything Parent's Guide To Sensory Processing Disorder: The Information and Treatment Options You Need to Help Your Child with SPD Paperback – June 6, 2014
by Terri Mauro (Author)