Sensory Processing Disorder

At the February support group meeting, Kathy Mulka gave a presentation on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). It can be difficult to tell ADD and SPD apart, so it is good to learn about key elements of SPD. Plus, there is a lot of cross-over. Between 40% and 60% of children with one disorder also have symptoms of the other disorder.

Essentially, SPD deals with the question of how sensitive children are to sensory input such as touch, movement, noise, visual, taste, olfactory. Some children are overly responsive to their environment. Others are under-responsive. Still others are stimulus seekers. Or, you can have a mix of all three categories.

Kathy noted that exercise is the sensory child’s insulin: it develops the brain and calms them down. Ensure that your child has access to recess and gym at school: if necessary, put it in their IPP. I was intrigued to learn that having something to suck  on helps children to organize their brains. A water bottle is good, as it is also something to play with in your hands.

Kathy recomended thee books that are essential references: The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz (618.928 KRA), Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller (618.928 MIL) and The Sensory-Sensitive Child by Karen A. Smith (618.92891 SMI). A parent also noted The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun. All of these titles are available at the Edmonton Public Library.

Lucy Miller’s STAR website has a checklist that helps with evaluation. We also talked about the value of weighted blankets. (You need to be careful with these–they can be used to help a child get to sleep, but then should be removed.) One place to find these sorts of aids is www.innovaid.ca, a company based in Sherwood Park, or simply Google “weighted blankets Canada.” Swimming can be great for these kids, although you might want to consider earplugs. You could also look into the use of white noise, or having children sit on an exercise ball.

For medical assistance, you will need a referral from your family doctor to a neurodevelopmental clinic in Edmonton or the surrounding region.

The good news? SPD is developmental. Over time, children lay down these neural circuits and can thus grow out of it. However, it is best to get treatment. And yes, adults also can have SPD.

Other recommended titles:
Sensory Integration and the Child, Jean Ayres
Asperger Syndrome and Sensory Issues, Brenda Smith et al
Love, Jean. Inspiration for Families Living with Dysfunction of Sensory Integration, A. Jean Ayres et al
Sensitive Sam, Marla Roth-Fisch



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