Sea Bright Sensory Motor Integration

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Empowered Learning Transformation Centers

Sensory Processing Disorder

Imagine walking into a store with your three-year-old child and knowing that almost anything might occur—without a moment’s notice—to upset your child and bring your shopping trip to a screeching halt… Will it be the lights? A sudden loud noise? The fact that he didn’t touch the wall as you went past it? What will send him into an inconsolable fit this time? This is what it is like to have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a neurological disorder also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID). You feel judgmental eyes upon you, accusing you of not controlling your child, and you wish, desperately, they could understand… My child is a good child, he just has special needs.


Children with SPD are often either hypersensitive or hyposensitive (with decreased sensitivity). What is tolerable for most of us, in terms of brightness, textures, sounds and other sensory input, can be unbearably bright, harsh, or loud to them. Or it may be the opposite; a child who is hyposensitive to touch, for example, may enjoy being squeezed. A child like this might seek out strong hugs, or he might slam his body against objects or people.


No two children are affected by SPD in exactly the same way, and SPD can stand alone or be part of another childhood disorder such as autism, cerebral palsy, ADD/ADHD, and many developmental delays. For these reasons, and others, it is often misunderstood and frequently misdiagnosed.


Identification & Therapy

An occupational therapist with specialty training and certification in Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SI Certification) can identify whether or not a child has SPD. The evaluation may include observations of the child, standardized testing, as well as a parent report and reports from other professionals (such as a pediatrician, speech & language pathologist, physical therapist, psychologist or a child development specialist).


If your child is identified as having SPD, therapy can help. Children in therapy are assisted to organize their central nervous systems, so they can process sensory information in a more appropriate way and improve their responses to everyday sensory stimuli. The sooner a child's SPD is identified, the sooner intervention can begin, and that means better odds for happier outcomes.


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