The JumpTherapy Blog:
Sensory Processing, Motor and Social Skills Resources
for Parents of Special Needs Children

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My Child Has Sensory Processing Disorder.

PART TWO: What Should I Know? What Should I Do?


You can help your child cope.
Keep in mind that therapy — and you — can help your child manage his/her symptoms and environment. There is a wide range of how Sensory Integration Disorder, also called Sensory Processing Disorder, affects children. Effective strategies and tactics, which we’ll discuss, help sensory children lead normal, functional lives.

What are the signs of SID/SPD?
Every child is different, and behaviors may not have a set pattern. Symptoms of SID/SPD vary broadly from mild to severe, and can affect a child in only one sense or in multiple senses. Bearing all that in mind, some of the signs of SID/SPD, according to Sensory Integration International, a non-profit corporation concerned with how sensory integrative disorders affect people’s lives, include:

  • Extreme over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds.
  • Activity level that is unusually high or unusually low.
  • Physical clumsiness or incoordination.
  • Lack of body awareness.
  • Difficulty learning new movements.
  • Easily distracted / limited attention.
  • Social and/or emotional problems.
  • Impulsivity, or lack of self-control.
  • Difficulty making transitions from one situation to another.
  • Inability to unwind or calm oneself.
  • Delays in self-care skills.
  • Delays in speech, language, or motor skills.
  • Delays in academic achievement / learning difficulties.

How does a child with SID/SPD behave?
These signs may manifest themselves in certain behaviors, such as:

  • Not liking to get dirty
  • Not wanting to be touched or 
  • Needing to constantly touch people and objects
  • Sensitivity to clothes, fabrics, seams and/or tags
  • Putting things in his/her mouth
  • Smell aversions
  • Food aversions
  • Refusing to brush teeth or gagging during toothbrushing
  • Refusing to allow hair or nails to be cut
  • Hand flapping
  • Fear of loud noises, even vacuum cleaners or hairdryers
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Fidgeting, being in constant motion

What is sensory over-sensitivity?
Children with over-sensitivity (also known as hyper-responsive) respond quickly, intensely, and for longer periods of time to sensations, and may:

  • not be able to cope with loud environments or people, even fear them
  • not be able to concentrate when it’s noisy
  • hum or make other sounds to block out external noise
  • be fearful of ordinary objects or situations
  • over-react 

Over-responders may hit, push, cover ears, shut eyes, have temper tantrums, walk or run away, gag on food.

What is sensory under-sensitivity?
Children with under-sensitivity (also known as hypo-responsive) don’t respond to sensory experiences, and may:

  • be weak and lean on objects or people
  • have a hard time waking up in the morning or from a nap
  • tire quickly
  • move slowly
  • not respond
  • seem depressed or not animated
  • be unaware of safety issues

Under-responders may zone out, not follow directions, not answer when their names are called, feel no pain, never cry, overstuff their mouths.

What could my child have trouble with?

  • Coping with anxiety
  • Adapting to new situations
  • Transitioning
  • Dealing with change
  • Feeling frustrated
  • Controlling impulses
  • Finishing tasks
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Independence

Is there a cure for SID/SPD?
SID/SPD can’t be fully cured. However, with occupational therapy and related interventions the symptoms can be lessened. Research has shown that the nervous system and neural pathways are constantly changing and can be reprogrammed. This, coupled with learned behavior and effective strategies, helps sensory children lead regular, productive lives.

What’s next?
In the next post, we’ll go over a checklist of specific symptoms you may want to discuss with your doctor or other professional testing or treating your child.

How are you coping? Do you get support from family, friends, and medical professionals? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, let me know there or via email what topics you would like to discuss or hear more about. 

Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.

I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

About Miriam:
Miriam Skydell MS, OTR/L is a pediatric OT with 30 years experience and a strong commitment to empowering every child and every family with the skills, confidence and emotional stability necessary for a meaningful, independent life. In addition to her Masters degree from NYU (1986) and membership in the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), Miriam is a licensed Interactive Metronome®,  HWT (Handwriting Without Tears®), and TLP (The Listening Program®) provider.

Miriam performs preschool screenings, contracts experienced OTs, PTs and STs to schools, helped implement the HWT curriculum, and lectures extensively for parent and support groups and at teacher conferences for public and private schools throughout New Jersey. Through her private practice in Fair Lawn, Miriam Skydell and Associates, established in 1995, Miriam has helped countless children with a wide range of diagnoses improve functional living skills, manage the impact of sensory processing dysfunction, and meet their individual potentials.