Nearly 20% of All Children Have SPD, What is SPD?
According to several articles nearly 1 in 5 or 6 children has sensory processing disorder (SPD) and about 1 in 68 children have autism. With about 15-20% of our child population suffering with SPD I’d say it’s worth addressing for most parents. I mentioned SPD in my first post, which was about an episode of the cartoon Arthur which helps children understand Aspergers. In the full episode we see George having a hard time in the library when he encounters something new. He was not able to properly understand the world around him which caused him to react a way Carl didn’t understand. The post has a short video which is worth watching, even with kids, to help them understand their peers may have a hard time with new things.
We are very BRIEFLY going to look at SPD. By grazing the surface I hope we can realize how serious it is, and perhaps get into it more deeply later. I will also leave a few links below as well as a link to an AMAZING YouTube video. I personally have sent this very video to so many friends and family because Amythest, the host, does an amazing job of addressing SPD in words I just don’t have. I hope my words do this condition justice.
SPD or known by a previous name, sensory integration dysfunction, is a neurological disorder that doesn’t allow the brain to properly take in sensory input. Every person with autism is likely to have SPD in some area, while others with SPD may not have autism. It is important to note when reflecting on SPD that it is not an area of preference but a disorder. A child isn’t picky if they have SPD and jeans cause a meltdown, or the color of their food causes stress, or sounds of a vacuum create fear. While on the flip side they may enjoy certain sounds, movements, or textures and show great interest in them, more than a typical person.
We can list off our main 5 senses but some say there are at least 21. Some of those include hunger, pressure, time, pain, vestibular (related to equilibrium) to name a few. Maybe some of those made you think about yourself. If you have “high pain tolerance” or an “amazing internal clock” or the anxiety you feel when in a packed elevator.
Our senses help us understand the world around us. When our senses don’t respond correctly it can be like whirlwind in our brains. As you can imagine it can be overwhelming. When over or under stimulated a person with SPD can behave fearfully or show signs of stress and perhaps have a full meltdown. A person may be under stimulated and put more pressure when they touch something and be more rough to help them interpret the things they touch. While others main feel pain when touched. This isn’t limited to touch some may get over stimulated in a crowded or loud place, while others the texture of food just doesn’t process correctly.
There are many adults who struggled as children with SPD but now have the skills to cope when a situation arises that use be an area of struggle. We can help our kids through these by realizing when something is purely preference and when it is SPD. Calmly helping out children learn to cope and be around certain things and walking through the process with them gives them confidence to address them when the time is right. At times we may need the help and oversight of an occupational therapist. Small steps to helping a child gain understanding of their world will help them become confident adults with the skills to cope with once stressful situations.
If you have a few moments this video will offer so much to your understanding of SPD:
Links throughout this post:
- SPD Foundation – a great recourse!