Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder

April 5, 2024

It is our sense of vision that allows us to see and make sense of the words on this page.  However, our sense of vision may not always process information correctly, leaving us to feel disorganized, confused, and unsure of what we see. What if the way you processed the title of this article made the article title look like this?   


Are you feeling somewhat confused? Disorganized? Unsure of what your eyes visually perceived. The feeling you get when you read the revised title is similar to that of a child who has difficulty processing sensory information.  It is confusing, labor-intensive, and leaves us with a feeling of disorganization.  

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder. It is the way our nervous system receives sensory messages and turns them into responses. Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR, states “Children with SPD experience touch, taste, sound, smell, movement, and other sensations differently in comparison to typical children. Some feel sensations more intensely, while others feel them less intensely. A child with SPD does not process sensory information the way other children do, and may not always behave the way typical children do.”

Here are a few examples of a child with SPD:

Sensory over-responsivity 

Responds to sensory messages more intensely, quickly, and for a longer period. Examples are your daughter is frequently bothered by certain textures such as fuzzy or furry, dislikes walking barefoot on grass, having her fingernails cut, loud unexpected sounds, and bright lights.

Sensory under-responsivity

Exhibits less of a response to sensory information, taking longer to react, requiring intense sensory messages before they take action. Examples are your son doesn’t seem to notice when he is touched, seems unaware of what’s going on around him, doesn’t hear his name being called, does not notice food or liquid on his lips.

Sensory seeking

Craves sensory experiences and actively seeks sensation, often in ways that are not socially acceptable. Examples are your is constantly on the move, likes crashing, bashing, bumping, shows a preference for excessive spinning, swinging, or rolling, constantly touches objects or people, seems unable to stop talking, and takes risks during play such as jumping off high furniture.

Occupational therapists are trained to diagnose sensory-based disorders. If you would like your child to be evaluated, please contact us for an appointment.

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The key to effective treatment is an early response.
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