Behavior problems in school interfere with the educational process for all students in the classroom. If your child’s behavior is getting him in trouble at school, it may be due to issues with sensory processing disorder.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is a condition where the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information received via the senses.
What are Sensory Processing Issues?
Some children with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things, such as sounds, bright lights, or the touch of a shirt on their skin. Oversensitive kids respond easily to sensory stimulation and may find it to be too much to deal with. Examples of these behaviors are:
- Inability to endure bright lights and loud noises, like police or ambulance sirens
- Easily distracted by common background noises
- Fearful of being touched or hugged…especially when caught by surprise
- Exceedingly fearful of swings and other playground apparatus
- Often bump into people, furniture, etc. Their concept of personal space may be skewed.
- Difficulty recognizing the amount of force they’re using; for example, they may unknowingly slam down objects.
- Experience meltdowns when overwhelmed
On the other end of the spectrum, under sensitive children seek out sensory stimulation. They may:
- Constantly desire touching people or objects, regardless of whether it is socially acceptable
- Have problems recognizing personal space
- Have a very high tolerance for pain
- Can’t realize their own strength
- Fidgety, can’t sit still
- Enjoy activities that include jumping, bumping, or crashing
- Desire fast, intense movement
Unfortunately, behaviors influenced by sensory processing disorder may be at the root of those phone calls from the school reporting your child’s disruptive behavior. These behaviors can also be mistaken for ADHD, as the symptoms overlap, making diagnosis and treatment difficult.
Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues
Parenting a child with sensory processing issues can be quite stressful. Currently, there is no medication available to treat sensory processing issues. However, therapy coupled with everyday changes can make life easier for both of you. Here are some ideas to try.
- Learn as much as you can about the symptoms of sensory processing issues, as well as available treatments.
- Identify patterns in your child’s behavior to further anticipate situations that may be difficult for her.
- Help your child learn what things are appropriate to touch.