Sensory Processing

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Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder , also known as sensory integration dysfunction,  is a condition caused by sensory signals being misdirected and disorganized leading to inappropriate responses.  In a sense, a blockage occurs in parts of the brain which does not allow for the proper interpretation of sensory information.  If this disorder is not treated, clumsiness, depression and behavioral problems are some of a few issues that can affect daily life.  A person can be extremely sensitive to light or sound alone, or in combination.  Another can be affected by touch, where a feather against the skin will be unbearable, or in reverse, where extreme hot or cold to the skin will cause no reaction.  Most commonly, children are diagnosed and treated for this disorder, but it can affect adults as well.

Treatment focuses on Occupational Therapy combined with Sensory Integration.  The therapist initially challenges the child in the therapy setting but gradually involves the family to extend the learning and adaptation to the home and outside environment.

When to pursue therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder

Infants and toddlers

  • Unable to calm self
  • Does not like playing with toys
  • Rigid body
  • Does not like to be held
  • Unable to sleep or eat well
  • Uncomfortable in clothing


  • Constantly moving
  • Unaware of personal space
  • Weak, clumsy, uncoordinated
  • Unusually sensitive to touch, smell and noise
  • Having trouble making friends
  • Unable to dress or perform daily tasks properly

Grade schoolers

  • Constantly moving, fidgety, unfocused
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Does not feel pain
  • Unusually sensitive to touch, smell and noise
  • Has trouble with fine motor activities
  • Unable to be social

Adolescents and adults

  • Constantly moving, fidgety, unfocused
  • Unable to complete tasks, afraid of failure
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unusually sensitive to touch, smell and noise
  • Has trouble with fine motor activities, clumsy