Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder: A Guide for Parents

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition where the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Children with SPD may seem uncoordinated, be sensitive to things in their environment, or have difficulty engaging in play and other activities. As a parent, understanding SPD and how it affects your child can help you provide the support they need. This guide will provide a comprehensive understanding of Sensory Processing Disorder.

Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex neurological condition that affects the way sensations are experienced and processed. Children with SPD may over-respond to sensory stimuli, under-respond, or seek out intense sensory experiences.

SPD can affect one sense, like hearing, touch, or taste, or it can affect multiple senses. And individuals with SPD can over-respond to one type of sensory input and under-respond to another. This can make everyday tasks challenging and can result in motor skills issues, behavioral problems, and difficulties in school.

Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder

Children with SPD may exhibit a wide range of symptoms, which can include:


Children who are over-responsive to sensory stimuli may be bothered by things that other people barely notice. This can include sensitivity to clothing, avoidance of touch, discomfort in loud environments, or picky eating.


Children who are under-responsive to sensory stimuli may seem unengaged or unaware of their environment. They may not respond to their name being called, have a high pain tolerance, or seem to have a lack of body awareness.

Sensory Seeking

Children who are sensory seeking may have a constant need for sensory stimulation. They may be constantly moving, enjoy loud noises and bright lights, or seek out intense physical activities.

Diagnosis and Treatment of SPD

Diagnosis of SPD is typically made by an occupational therapist with expertise in sensory processing issues. The therapist will use standardized tests and observational assessments to determine how a child responds to sensory stimuli.

Treatment for SPD typically involves occupational therapy with a sensory integration approach. The therapist will guide the child through activities that are designed to challenge their ability to respond appropriately to sensory input.

Coping Strategies for Parents

As a parent of a child with SPD, there are several strategies you can use to help your child manage their symptoms:

Create a Sensory-Friendly Environment

Creating a sensory-friendly environment at home can help your child feel more comfortable. This might involve using soft lighting, reducing background noise, or providing a quiet space where your child can retreat when they feel overwhelmed.

Use a Sensory Diet

A sensory diet is a set of activities that are specifically designed to help a child regulate their sensory input. An occupational therapist can help you design a sensory diet that meets your child’s specific needs.

Practice Patience and Understanding

Children with SPD are not being difficult on purpose. They are dealing with a neurological condition that makes certain things challenging for them. Practice patience and understanding, and remember to celebrate your child’s successes, no matter how small they may seem.


Sensory Processing Disorder can be challenging for both the child and their parents. However, with understanding, treatment, and the right strategies, children with SPD can learn to manage their symptoms and thrive. Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. It’s important to be patient and persistent, and to seek professional help if needed. With the right support, your child can navigate the world in their own way, on their own terms.


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