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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sensory Processing Disorder - The 7 Senses

I was so happy to see Josie playing in the
mud that day...  Another parent might
have thought "Oh what a mess!"
I thought "What a great thing!"
Everybody has some sort of sensory issue.  For me, I detest anything rubbing my feet.  Kevin, in contrast, loves rubbing his feet on everything!  Nearly everybody cannot stand the sound of fingernails scratching chalkboards.  Some people hate the smell of eggs cooking.  A person might be exceptionally clumsy.  Another person may crave the feeling of going really fast.  An itchy shirt tag might drive you crazy!  The difference between having a sensory issue and having sensory processing disorder (in my opinion) is your ability to cope with the issue.  An average person can easily avoid what bothers them, or if it's unavoidable, simply sucks it up and continues their day.  An average person can curb behaviours they shouldn't engage in, like speeding in their car, or walking around rubbing their feet on everything.  A child with SPD...  well, they may react with tantrums, meltdowns, repetitive odd behaviours, outright refusal to do things, or the inability to stop "inappropriate" actions.  Their brains process sensory information in different ways than most people.

When it comes to sensory issues, there are seven senses.  They are:
  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Sight
  • Sound
  • Smell
  • Vestibular
  • Proprioception
Josie appears to have issues with all but her body awareness (proprioception.)

When it comes to touch, Josie does not like "light" touching.  She likes to have bear hugs, tight squeezes, that kind of touch.  She has a high pain threshold, often not noticing injuries.  She hates being naked, and almost always has her shoes on.

Her taste sense leads her to a very restrictive diet at times.  In particular, I can recall one week where she ate nothing but goldfish crackers.  When I ran out, she literally starved herself for an entire day  until I went and bought more.  

Sight issues for Josie are related to attention to detail.  She focuses on one object or part of an object rather than the entire scheme of things.

In regards to sound, her issues are twofold.  At times it is as if she is deaf, at other times the slightest noise bothers her to the point where she covers her ears.

I never would have thought there was a smell problem, but apparently the need to lick things indicates a potential problem.  Hopefully once her communication increases I can find out if she does have some sort of an issue with different odours.

Vestibular refers to balance.  While Josie can balance fine, she does rock, swing, bounce, spin and have other repetitive gross motor behaviours, which are usually done in an attempt to stimulate the vestibular sense.

So, while Josie has many sensory issues, she is neither strictly of the "hyper" or "hypo" category.  Some of her senses seem understimulated, other overstimulated.  In some cases, it entirely depends on the day (in particular her sound sense.)

Sensory issues are very common among autistic individuals, however, simply having a sensory problem does not indicate Autism.

I would like to remind you, I am not a doctor, I am not an expert in Autism or SPD.  I am, however, an expert in my daughter.  I am sharing this information simply to inform and raise awareness.

For more information, I highly recommend this website:

It is a UK based site, but it's information is superb, and easy to understand.

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