Some of us struggle with our five senses and can be extremely sensitive to noise, touch, taste, lights and smell. Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition where the brain has trouble processing information received through the senses, this can cause a ‘sensory overload.’
Doctors are not in agreement whether Sensory Processing Disorder is a disability in its own right. Some believe it is an additional difficulty for many autistic people or people who struggle with ADHD and anxiety etc. Whether Sensory Processing Disorder is categorised as its own disability or not the truth remains that many children and adults struggle with the sensitivity of their senses.
Like autism itself people who struggle with sensory issues do so on a spectrum, each person has their own individual difficulties. One child may only struggle with noise while another may find all their senses affected.
There are two types of sensory challenges. A ‘sensory seeker’ looks for more sensory stimulation… a trampoline, skateboard, hanging upside down from a tree! A ‘sensory avoider’ is just that, a person who tries to avoid sensations they find uncomfortable. Most people tend to be a mixture of both ‘sensory seeking’ and ‘sensory avoiding.’ Someone’s reactions can also change from one day to the next or even throughout the day depending on their environment and feelings.
Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder
- Is easily overwhelmed by people and places
- Seeks out quiet spots in noisy, crowded environments
- Is easily startled by sudden noises
- Is bothered by bright light
- Refuses to wear itchy or otherwise uncomfortable clothing
- Avoids touching people or hugging them
- Has a strong reaction to the texture or smell of certain foods
- Refuses to try new foods and has a very limited diet of preferred foods
- Gets upset about small changes in routine or environment and avoids trying new things
Touch: Finding any touch difficult, irritating or even painful. Clothes can be rough and irritating, labels impossible to ignore.
Noise: Common or loud noises may be unbearable, unexpected noise can cause panic. Even an annoying background noise can be impossible to ignore.
Taste: The texture of food can cause a lot of difficulties as can being very sensitive to flavours.
Light: Bright or flickering lights or horrible fluorescent supermarket lights can even make someone feel dizzy or sick.
Smell: An amazing sense of smell is not always a good thing! Smells can be overwhelming and upsetting.
Occupational therapists can often help with sensory issues. They can create ‘Sensory Diets’ of activities to calm and regulate emotions such as jumping jacks and hopping up and down. At school fidget cubes and quiet places can help as well as exercise breaks.
Understanding why a behaviour is happening makes coping and handling situations easier.
We sell several products that can help with anxiety and the need for a ‘mental break.’
Article by: Paula