Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
SPD is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organised into appropriate responses. SPD occurs when the brain is not able to process sensory information effectively.
Pioneering occupational therapist and neuro-scientist Jean Ayres likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.
SPD can be displayed in very different ways depending on the child. The most common types of SPD seen are:
- Sensory Seeker – TIGGER – is constantly on the move and usually very athletic/agile. These children tend to be thrill seekers and need regular sensory input to keep them balanced. Without regular exercise, these children can “act up” or become unruly.
- Low Registration/Under Responder – EEYORE – less sensitive to sensory input than typically functioning children. Poor inner drive, doesn’t cry when seriously hurt, unaware of touch, uninterested in exploring games, easily lost in their own world, clumsy.
- Sensory Sensitive/Defensive – RABBIT – this is a child who over reacts to sensations that don’t bother others, they are hypersensitive to sensation, commonly sensitive to touch and sound.
- ‘Just Right’ – WINNIE THE POOH – this is the desired goal for all children; to be regulated and organised, ready to learn, able to concentrate and at their ‘just right’ level of arousal.
A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioural problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.