Most kids explore the world around them using their senses, including sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell. Processing the information they receive from these sources allows them to learn about their surroundings and communicate with others. However, some children have trouble handling sensory input.
Sensory processing issues can get in the way of a child’s normal development, including day-to-day functioning and learning, according to the nonprofit Child Mind Institute. In addition to the well-known five senses, they might also have problems with their awareness of their body (proprioception) and their vestibular sense/system, which contributes to body position, movement of the head, and balance.
Generally, children who experience this type of issue will either be over- or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli. Your child might have difficulty taking in sensory information if you notice that he or she shows any of the following warning signs.
Kids who find themselves overwhelmed by sensory input might have these characteristics, according to the Child Mind Institute and Understood.org:
- Dislike being touched, even by people they know
- Be afraid of crowds
- Show an extreme reaction to loud noises and bright lights (e.g., sirens)
- Be overly afraid of playground equipment because they want to avoid getting hurt
- Bump into things and have difficulty understanding where their body is located in relation to people and objects
- Get distracted or bothered by sounds other people don’t notice
- Find clothing irritating/scratchy, even with all tags and labels removed
Children experiencing under-sensitivity will try to seek out more stimulation. Here are some potential red flags for hyposensitivity:
- Indifferent to or has a high tolerance for pain
- Need to constantly touch people or things, whether it’s appropriate or not
- Trouble understanding appropriate personal space
- Have issues sitting still
- Seek out fast/intense movement
Children with sensory processing issues might have extreme reactions to changes in environment, such as throwing a tantrum after entering a bright and loud store. He or she might lash out aggressively or try to run away to escape the stimulation.
If you think your child has trouble with sensory processing, a pediatric occupational therapist can help. A skilled therapist can observe your son or daughter’s behavior and formulate a treatment plan to help him or her better manage sensory stimulation and input.
At Little Steps, our pediatric occupational therapists can help kids with sensory processing disorders learn, grow, and become more independent. To learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us today by calling 847-707-6744 or emailing [email protected].