Pediatric Occupational & Physical Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorders & Motor Delays
Happy girl child playing with toy and working with therapist

Sensory Processing Disorder FAQs

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

It’s the inability to receive and accurately process information from our senses. This information helps us to organize our behavior and successfully interact with the world. It has also been called Sensory Integration Dysfunction.

My child sees and hears fine, how can there be an issue?

You are right, we usually think about the five major senses, but there are other senses that are essential to our survival because they give us the ability to modulate behavior, social skills and attention. These systems include our vestibular system, which processes balance and movement. The proprioceptive system is our internal awareness of our joints and muscles in space. 

What causes these problems?

No one knows for sure. There seems to be a link within families. Parents will often tell us that they experienced similar issues.

There is also a risk for kids who have experienced birth trauma or chronic ear infections. Children of mothers who spent a lot of time on bed rest and children of international adoptions also seem to be at risk. 

Children on the Autism Spectrum, Down’s Syndrome, Fragile X and other neurodevelopmental conditions can also experience struggles in this area.

Over- Reactive to Stimuli.

If the child is overly reactive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds, they may have behavioral issues that include distractibility, withdrawl from touch, and avoidance of certain textures including clothing or food. Some experience a fearful reaction to ordinary movement. Others are sensitive to loud noises or cover their ears to normal input like the noise of a vacuum cleaner or public toilet. 

Under-Reactive to Stimulation

Under-reactive children seek out intense sensory experiences such as twirling, intentional falling, crashing, and bumping into walls.  They may also seek intensity in food flavors, sounds or intense screen activities

Coordination Problems

Children with coordination problems can have poor balance and appear awkward, weak, still or clumsy. They may also have difficulty learning new motor skills.

Behavioral Issues

Children with Sensory Processing challenges can exhibit behavioral concerns, they may be impulsive or easily distracted. They tend to have difficulty planning and have a disorganized approach to tasks. Some of these children have trouble transitioning and adjusting to new tasks. They may also get frustrated, aggressive, withdrawn, and have difficulty in a variety of social situations.