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Bodily Sensation and Sensory Processing Disorder

Bodily Sensation and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) 

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a developmental condition that revolves around the processing of bodily sensation. Sensory processing disorder can cause difficulty in performing activities in everyday life. The symptoms of SPD are a result of multi-sensory information being processed abnormally by the brain. As a result, those with SPD may respond inappropriately to stimuli within their environments. 

Some children with SPD fail to respond to or over-respond to multi-sensory information such as taste, touch, smell, sound and vision. For some, the tactile feel of a shirt touching the skin feels uncomfortable. Those affected with SPD may have difficulty processing one sense or multiple senses all at once. One of the most common symptoms of SPD is difficulty processing tactile information or information focusing on touch. 

Most times, SPD is noticed early on and is diagnosed in childhood. Certain children on the autism spectrum also show symptoms of SPD. Oversensitivity to sensations may cause children with SPD to overreact to stimuli. This can be seen in the presence of loud sounds. On the flip side, some children with SPD demonstrate under sensitivity. This can result in a child being totally or minimally unaware of bodily sensations. Under sensitivity to certain sensations can be problematic when it comes to being aware of things such as hunger, pain, or heat and cold.

Recognizing the symptoms of SPD can be pretty straightforward if you know what you are looking for. Here are some common signs of SPD:

  • Lack of awareness of pain or other people
  • Not being aware of feeling soiled or wet
  • Not feeling pain when hurt or wounded
  • Sluggishness and lack of responsiveness
  • Sensitivity to loud sounds
  • Negative reactions to textures, clothing, and touch

There are a variety of tools to treat the symptoms of SPD.  Slowly introducing new sensations and allowing time to acclimate can temper reactions. Children with under sensitivity to tactile stimuli may benefit by wearing tight fitting clothing to help nerves in the skin to respond to sensations of touch. At night, a heavy, weighted blanket or comforter can help soothe and aid sleep.

Every patient with SPD is different. While some are oversensitive, others are under sensitive. It is important to navigate each case individually in order to develop a treatment plan that is customized to the sensory challenges experienced by each different person.




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