Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Sensory Processing Disorder affects many children and is often misdiagnosed as difficulties with anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, or another condition. A good reference for this problem is the book “The Out-Of-Sync Child” by Carol Stock Kranowitz. Sensory processing problems involve not only the classic five senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching) but three more including vestibular sense, proprioception, and interoception. Vestibular sense tells us where we are, how fast were moving, if were falling etc. Proprioception results in an understanding of muscle and joint sense which helps us understand how to move through space (e.g., get up the stairs). Interoception is the information we get from our internal organs to know if we are hungry, thirsty, or have to go to the bathroom. Our sensory processing helps us know what to do when we are in danger or gives us our understanding of sense of satisfaction. We also need this understanding in order to plan for action about what we want to do. Sensory processing disorder has three major categories each with subtypes. Sensory modulation problems refer to individuals who are either overly responsive to stimuli in the environment, under responsive, or those who seek even more sensory stimuli (e.g., the daredevil). Others have difficulty discriminating sensations. These individuals have difficulty using their sensory perception to make assessments. Because of their difficulty, despite doing things over and over again they seem to go into situations without knowledge of what or how to do things. Finally, there is a sensory-based motor problem where people have trouble with posture and movement (e.g. they may be clumsy, or move about in a disorganized way), or, they have problems planning and executing physical actions. As part of a comprehensive assessment one can determine the effect of sensory processing on learning problems. Sensory processing can affect perceptions in the classroom, learning styles, and needs for special testing situations that can only be identified through a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment. Call our office if you are interested in such a comprehensive assessment for recommendations to help your child learn better in the classroom by attending to their specific needs.