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Home > Health Library > Sensory Processing Disorder
Children with sensory processing disorder have difficulty processing information from the senses (touch, movement, smell, taste, vision, and hearing) and responding appropriately to that information. These children typically have one or more senses that either over- or under react to stimulation. Sensory processing disorder can cause problems with a child's development and behavior.
Children with autism and other developmental disabilities often have sensory processing disorder. But sensory processing disorder can also be associated with premature birth, brain injury, learning disorders, and other conditions.
The exact cause of sensory processing disorder is not known. It is commonly seen in people with autism, Asperger's syndrome, and other developmental disabilities. Most research suggests that people with autism have irregular brain function. More study is needed to determine the cause of these irregularities, but current research indicates they may be inherited.
Children with sensory processing disorder cannot properly process sensory stimulation from the outside world. Your child may:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children who show signs of a sensory problem be checked for other conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder or an anxiety disorder. A doctor who has special training to care for children with development and behavior concerns or a mental health professional can check for these conditions. Your child may also see an occupational therapist (OT). The OT will observe how your child stands and balances, his or her coordination, eye movements, and how your child responds to stimulation.
Sensory integration therapy, usually conducted by an occupational or physical therapist, is often recommended for children who have sensory processing disorder. It focuses on activities that challenge the child with sensory input. The therapist then helps the child respond appropriately to this sensory stimulus.
Therapy might include applying deep touch pressure to a child's skin with the goal of allowing him or her to become more used to and process being touched. Also, play such as tug-of-war or with heavy objects, such as a medicine ball, can help increase a child's awareness of her or his own body in space and how it relates to other people.
Although it has not been widely studied, many therapists have found that sensory integration therapy improves problem behaviors.
Current as of: January 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineLouis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Current as of: January 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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