Common Signs of Sensory Processing Difficulties

Sensory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing in children

You know your child better than anyone else and you are well aware of their needs, behaviours, and their challenges, but an area of child development that many are unfamiliar with is Sensory Processing.

We all have our own sensory preferences, but some experience challenges when it comes to their Sensory Processing and some have what's called Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD.

Identifying the signs of Sensory Processing difficulties is unfortunately not very straightforward. Sensory processing difficulties can impact a child's daily life and development, but being aware of the common signs can help parents recognise and seek appropriate support. 

Understanding Sensory Processing Difficulties

Sensory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing in children

Sensory processing difficulties occur when the brain struggles to process and respond to sensory information effectively. Each person's sensory profile is unique, and some individuals with sensory processing difficulties may experience over or under-responsiveness to specific sensory stimuli. These difficulties can affect various sensory systems, including touch, sound, sight, taste, smell, and movement.

Signs of Sensory Processing Difficulties:

Sensory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration, Sensory Processing in children
    1. Sensory Overload: Children with sensory processing difficulties may become overwhelmed by sensory input, leading to meltdowns, irritability, or withdrawal. Loud noises, bright lights, smells, busy spaces, textures and tastes can lead to Sensory Overload. Understanding a persons threshold for certain sensory information or environments can significantly impact on their overall well-being as adaptations and changes can be made.

    2. Sensory Avoidance: Some children may actively avoid certain sensory experiences or seek to minimise exposure to overwhelming stimuli. They may demonstrate resistance to touch, sensitivity to certain textures or clothing, or reluctance to participate in activities that involve specific sensory inputs.

    3. Sensory Seeking Behaviours: On the other hand, some children may constantly seek sensory stimulation. They might engage in activities like spinning, rocking, or excessive touching to fulfill their sensory needs. They may appear restless, have difficulty sitting still, or crave intense sensory experiences. Children with Autism tend to have heightened sensory seeking behaviours.

    4. Fine Motor Challenges: Children with sensory processing difficulties may struggle with fine motor skills, such as writing, using utensils, or tying shoelaces. They may have difficulties with hand-eye coordination, manipulating small objects, or maintaining a proper grip.

    5. Motor Coordination Issues: Difficulties in certain areas of gross motor skills may also also be observed. Children may exhibit poor balance, coordination, or spatial awareness. They may struggle with tasks like climbing, catching or throwing a ball, or riding a bike.

    6. Sensitivity to Noise: Children with sensory processing difficulties may be highly sensitive to certain sounds. They may cover their ears or become distressed in response to loud noises, background noise, or specific frequencies.

    7. Sensitivity to Light: Bright lights or flickering lights may cause discomfort or distress in children with sensory processing difficulties. They may squint, shield their eyes, or have difficulty adjusting to changes in lighting conditions.

    8. Food Sensitivities: Sensory processing difficulties can extend to the realm of taste, texture, and smell. Children may display aversions or preferences for certain foods based on their sensory properties, such as strong flavors, specific textures, or unfamiliar smells.

    9. Difficulty with Transitions: Transitions between activities or changes in routine can be challenging for children with sensory processing difficulties. They may become anxious, agitated, or exhibit resistance when faced with changes or unexpected events.

    10. Emotional and Behavioural Regulation: Sensory processing difficulties can impact emotional and behavioural regulation. Children may have difficulty self-regulating their emotions, leading to frequent outbursts, anxiety, or difficulty concentrating.

Recognising the common signs of sensory processing difficulties is crucial for parents to support their child's well-being and development. We have highly trained and experienced Occupational Therapists here at Gabadoo who would love to support you as you figure out your child's sensory preferences. Occupational Therapy can support all families as these highly skilled healthcare professionals are the true expert of child development.

Along with helping you to understand how to support your child's sensory challenges, we also help to highlight your child's sensory strengths which can be used to support their skill development and overall well-being. You can book a video consultation with one of our Occupational Therapists by clicking here.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published