Sensory Processing Disorder

When our son started displaying “unusual” behaviour I just assumed it was Autism (my oldest son has Aspergers Syndrome), and that it was a case of getting it diagnosed (he’s 4 the end of Next April). But now I’ve been told to read this book about Sensory Processing Disorder. I think it was less worrying to think he it was Autism, as now I fear that he has “something” that I know nothing about.


Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is the inability to use information received through the senses in order to function smoothly in daily life.  There are 3 main categories – Sensory Modulation Disorder, Sensory Discrimination Disorder and  Sensory Based Motor Disorder. Sensory Modulation Disorder has 3 subtypes – Sensory Over-Responsivity, Sensory Under-Responsivity and Sensory Seeking. Sensory based Motor Disorder has the subtypes Postural Disorder and Dyspraxia.

The child with SPD may have trouble reading cues from the environment; making learning difficult. A lot of the common problems associated with SPD are similar to those of Autism and ADHD. He does not have ADHD, as children with the condition are known to prefer novel situations, whereas our son, and those with SPD, prefer routine, predictable environments.

I think what flagged up SPD with my son is the way he touches people, even those he hardly knows, but then doesn’t like being touched (only on his terms), likes rough play with his dad, but can wipe off kisses – even if it is him that has decided to give them. I only *think* this as nothing has been said apart from for me to read this certain book on the topic area – after he was stroking the doctors tights on his second meeting with her.


He has trouble regulating his mood – if he is upset he cannot easily calm himself down, and to self-comfort. He performs unevenly sometimes behaving fine and, unpredictably, behaving completely different at other times. He has trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, constantly waking at night. Picky with his eating – doesn’t like mixed textures. Doesn’t like it when his clothes get a little bit wet or dirty – and can just strip off – regardless of where he is, or the occasion. He is constantly on the go, with a short attention span. He doesn’t react well to change, can be clingy, has poor communication and low self-esteem.

This post is mainly for me to get my thoughts together on it all. You may feel it’s a bit factual, and clinical. Guess I just can’t get emotional about it because I am so in denial. I feel so angry and confused – and want answers, but yet don’t want them. I just so want to be told he’s “ok”.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

18 thoughts on “Sensory Processing Disorder”

  1. I have read a reasonable amount on SPD because my son has sensory issues also. He is younger than yours at two and a half but does show sensory seeking behaviour which is really common with his Syndrome. With him being deaf in addition witha minor visual impairment to boot things can be quite a challenge for him. Sound alike your son would benefit from an Occupational Therpists input for the sensory side and perhaps an Ed Psycholgist to do an assessment too. I know it can be depressing having so many people involved and you are probably used to having extra people in your lives so what I am saying may well be tuff you already knew anyway; but I just wanted to comment. There is a closed Facebook group for sensory ‘diet’ related stuff if that would be of any help for you? I can point you to that one. I very much tend to describe my sons eeds in the factual way, think its just how we kind of grow to do it when they is so much information to take in and get our heads around. Hugs x

  2. Please excuse all he typos, I am terrible for checking before I post! I would say to you though it feels overwhelming, understanding it is half the battle. The other half will be ensuring your son has his daily sensory diet to meet his needs, so that he is able to best function as well as he can. We are currently going through the statementing process and so many reports have been done over the last couple of months from all sorts of people. I worry how my son will function in a school environment already as I know his sensory needs need to met first before he can even think of concentrating on anything! X

    • Thank you very much. He has been referred to occupational therapy. We have meeting with ed psych on 14th of this month. Currently being assessed for statement – I have a massive questionnaire to fill in.

      Yes diet group would be brill, thank you very much. His diet is poor, I have read cutting out junk would help but he eats very little :O( that the red in drinks can disturb the sleep but he drinks very little if he isn’t given apple and blackcurrant.

      Good luck with your statementing too and thank you so much for commenting.

  3. The SEN co-ordinator at J’s nursery has recommended to read the book as well because of J. We have lots of characteristics of ASD but his immagination/communication is too good according to dr’s/nursery. The sensory processing disorders are what the nursery suspect and have put him on an IEP to deal with some of the issues. They have concerns with attention span, he can’t focus with too much stimuli, doesn’t “feel” hot/cold, wakes constantly at night and will only sleep well with someone holding him close. The unable to control emotions is very like him. He just can’t – at 3 and a half (he’s not 4 until August) he’s much more like a 2 year old with emotions. I don’t know whether he will ever have a formal diagnosis but the nursery have put something in place and we will continue to monitor and see what we can do to help him at home

    • This sounds a lot like our son. Yes he has imaginative play too – was one of the first things I’ve noticed that he’s unlikely to get an Autism dx. I referred him to a paediatrician myself, and requested his statement. What do you do as regards the sleeping? We currently have his bed right next to ours but he ends up getting in with us. Even touching us he wakes frequently, whispers in our ears, pulls on us, hallucinates and points at things.

      I’m glad your nursery is being supportive. Thank you very much for commenting.

  4. You know what as a teacher I hadn’t heard of this until last year when I was introduced to the book :The out of sync child has fun’. I could see so many children that had been through my classes yet hadn’t ever presented with big enough issues to warrant being referred. Thanks so much for sharing your very personal journey. Kierna

  5. My children have sensory difficulties, my son more so. Unfortunately his issues were never properly recognised when he was diagnosed with autism (sensory issues was never part of the autism diagnosis back then). But when you look, they are there and they have had quite a big impact on his life. Unfortunately before he got his ASD diagnosis we had no idea why he would react to changes in temperature, hair brushing, teeth cleaning, eating, being touched, clothing etc. We’ve now learnt that his sensory issues go hand in hand with his autism and we’ve now learnt what he can and cant cope with and have adapted but its taken time. I can understand you wanting to be told he is OK and feeling overwhelmed with things; I’ve felt like this many a time. It just feels so much to take in doesn’t it? Slowly though I’ve learnt about my son and have adapted and I think life has got better, different but better. Deb

    • Just wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Yes he is just my boy at the end of the day and no matter what they say we will just deal with it. Guess if it were only what I already knew how to deal with it would be easier all round x

  6. I know just how difficult it is when you have a second child who may have a different special need to the one you know about. Having become an expert on cerebral palsy, slowly gaining an understanding of aspergers, I am now seeing sensory issues everywhere too, both with him, and with the rest of the family, some of whom (like me and my eldest daughter) have no official diagnosis: we are ‘ok’, so there’s every chance that he is too xx

    • Thank you. I’m just comforted by the fact that he is very happy whatever the outcome. Thank you for your touching comment. I wish you all the best.

  7. I really know very little about SPD, this post and the comments on it have taught me at least half of my knowledge, but it’s incredibly interesting. We have an impressive amount of Autism in our family so we never really considered this before, but one of ours adores to be touched and ever since a baby will pull your hand towards him so that you can touch him, and another doesn’t enjoy being touched, but strokes and touches and licks constantly, even when he’s been asked to stop and annoyed you to the point of shouting (my upper arms are a constant series of bruises and sore skin from where he’s rubbed and pinched. I can’t believe we didn’t talk more at Blog On 😀


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