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What is Sensory Processing?

2 min read

Sensory processing is how people use the information provided to them by all the sensations coming from both within the body and from the environment around them.

We all know and have been taught about the five external senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. These senses are integrated inside us so we can form a complete understanding of who we are, where we are, and what is happening around us.  As we grow and mature, our sensory processing skills mature, vital pathways in the nervous system strengthen, helping us get better at handling everyday life challenges.  

A child or adult with Sensory Processing Disorder or “SPD” is someone whose sensory processing did not develop smoothly.

People with “sensory issues” cannot rely on their senses to give them the necessary information on what is going on around them. They can’t get an accurate picture of the world so it makes it difficult for them to know how to respond or behave in certain situations. This can lead to isolation from social functions and inability to learn or focus in a classroom.

There have been many titles and labels of this in the past, but it is now commonly known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) as awareness of this is increasing.

Other titles and labels that have been used in the past (and you may still hear from people) are “Sensory Integration Dysfunction”, “Sensory Modulation Disorder”, and “Dysfunction of Sensory Integration”. The main thing to know is changing the title does not change what people with SPD struggle with on a daily basis.

No two people with sensory processing disorder are the same, therefore there is no cookie-cutter therapy to help these people function.

For example, all three of my children have SPD in different ways, causing different reactions and behaviors to different situations. This can be very overwhelming for a parent, which is why it’s important to have an Occupational Therapist (OTR) do a thorough evaluation.

The first and most important thing to do if you suspect someone to be going through a sensory processing issue is to have empathy.

In order to have empathy, people need to be more aware of SPD. That is what this blog will be about. Please feel free to contact us for any topic information you would like posted here.

Next blog: "Eight Ways to Make Sense" - There is more to it than just the five senses!


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