Children are simple yet complex human beings. They may be able to talk, ask for food, or ask to go outside, but they still lack the ability to communicate things and feelings they don’t understand. Heck even some adults have this problem!
When kids (babies, toddlers, preschoolers) can’t communicate what they don’t understand, their body dictates for them on their behalf.
Problem is, they can never understand if we don’t understand either. And then what happens? They grow up to be adults who struggle when their body signals to them urging for “more of this” and “less of that”.
Regardless, all parents should learn about sensory processing so they can better understand their children’s behaviours – or as some would call, misbehaviors. And of course, all parents should contact their doctor if they have any concerns about their child rather than diagnosing them theirselves as they could be missing something bigger.
So let’s talk about SPD.
Anyone can have Sensory Processing Disorder. The name can sound scary as many fear a title that ends with “disorder”. But SPD can be very deceiving, as parents typically see the symptoms as an issue with the child’s behaviour and discipline – and not as symptoms of sensory input and output struggles.
Any child, any human being actually, processes sensory input and output. Kids and babies are especially sensitive to this because, well, everything is developing still.
They don’t necessarily have to have a disorder, per se, to be reacting to their sensory input and output. However, any child that’s more sensitive than others and are more active than others will show signs of under or over stimulation more easily than the rest.
The reality is that any child will start getting restless or irritated from under or over stimulation in one or all of the 8 (not 5) areas of their sensory inputs. Any child can have sensory processing struggles without it being a disorder. Its the degree and frequency of the struggles that determines that its an actual disorder.
The eight areas of sensory input:
For more information about identifying sensory under and over stimulation, I highly recommend the book, “Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals” and “Understanding Your Baby’s Sensory Signals”, both by Angie Voss, OTR.