Disorder Infomation and Resources for Educators & Parents
by Erin Kelly Allshouse
PROCESSING DISORDER or SPD
(also knowon as Sensory Integration Dysfunction or SID) is a complex
neurological disorder of the brain affecting one in 20 developing children.
Children with SPD interpret everyday sensory information in a vastly
different manner than how a child without this condition would experience
the same thing. Depending
on which type of SPD a child has, he may feel as if he is overwhelmed
with information; seek out intense sensory experiences, or might have
other symptoms. Behavior problems can result because sensory messages
are not processed and integrated accurately and efficiently, but also
can be so subtle that they easily and often go unrecognized or misdiagnosed.
SPD typically manifests in either timid or aggressive
behavior, and usually begins to surface by age two or sometimes sooner,
experts say. It often impedes basic functions, particularly those involving
touch. Tactile defensiveness frequently culminates in tantrums from
being touched, tapped or bumped, causing these kids to react very defensively.
Behaviors which can be associated with tactile defensiveness are aggressiveness,
avoidance, withdrawal, and intolerance of daily routines. Combing or
shampooing hair, brushing teeth, or cutting fingernails can be exhausting
and difficult for families of children who react defensively. Below
are some typical behaviors associated with SPD:
Takes excessive risks
• Jumps and crashes into things
• Dislikes being touched – or conversely, just can be
• Dislikes sudden loud noises, like fireworks, or the sound
of a vacuum cleaner or hairdryer, etc.
• Cannot cope with crowded stores and places, so much so, major
meltdowns are common, often resulting in the family having to leaveound
are just a few of responses common to children who may have Sensory
Processing Disorder. Because of the complexity of the various areas
which are dependent upon and interact with each other as well as the
child's own personality and environment, it is not possible to list
all the symptoms. However you can read the entire article in Volume
1, issue 1 of INSPIRED PARENTING magazine, (available from our online
the following additional information has been provided for educators
who may suspect they have a child with sensory processing issues in
Processing Disorder for the Educator
Sensory processing disorders can cause children difficulties as they
interact with their environments throughout the day. School is no exception.
Many children with sensory processing disorders have difficulties in
school because their disorders are not completely understood by educators.
Fortunately, there are things educators can do to help support students
with sensory processing disorder. Read on to learn how to support children
with sensory processing disorder.
Read as much as you can about the type of sensory processing disorder
the child has. Interventions depend on what sense is involved and whether
the child is over-responsive or under-responsive.
Discuss interventions with other professionals and parents. Meet with
the child's parents to discuss what interventions work at home. Visit
with an occupational therapist to learn about intervention strategies.
Step Three: Recognize that
the child needs extra support in the classroom or behaviors will get
worse. The extra support isn't viewed as a crutch, but is viewed as
Plan ahead for situations that you know may cause discomfort for the
child. Whenever you're doing something different with your class, anticipate
how the child may react.
Step Five: Communicate
with the child's other teachers about things that are working in your
classroom. Interventions need to be consistent across environments.
Six: Reward the child for small
steps. Sitting in a chair for five minutes may be a huge step for a
child with vestibular dysfunction.
Step Seven: Recognize that
sensory processing disorder may affect the child's interactions with
peers. Brief social skill lessons may help the child be more socially
Tips & Warnings:
Go to workshops to learn more about intervention strategies.
• Don't take behavior personally. For example, children who
can't sit still may not be bored with your lesson, but they may have
a high need for input.
find out more about Sensory Processing Disorder see the following resources
Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center - http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/
The Sensory Processing Disorder Network - http://www.sinetwork.org/
S.I. FOCUS – The international magazine dedicated to improving
sensory integration - http://www.sifocus.com/
See/Hear Newsletter – http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/fall97/sensory.htm
The Out of Sync Child - http://www.out-of-sync-child.com/
Sensory Resources - http://www.sensoryresources.com/index.asp
Apraxia-Kids -The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America
(CASANA) - http://www.apraxia-kids.org/site/c.chKMI0PIIsE/b.700249/k.6901/ApraxiaKIDS_a_program_of_The_Childhood_Apraxia_of_Speech_Association/apps/lk/content3.aspx
Children’s Academy for Neurodevelopment & Learning - http://www.kidscanlearn.net/tactile.htm
(for an article on
Tactile Defensiveness: Overly Sensitive to Touch).
To read Erin Kelly Allshouse's
review of the book The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz,
MA, with a new preface by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR, click
is Deputy Editor of Inspired Parenting Magazine, a freelance journalist
and mother to Trevor, aged 4.