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Muskegon, MI

945. E. Sherman Blvd.
P. 231.737.4374

Grand Rapids, MI

4095 Park East Court SE
P: 616.259.4028

Grand Haven, MI

16760 Lincoln Street
P: 616.935.3300

NOCHS, Grand Haven, MI

1015 S. Beacon Blvd.
P: 616.847.5293

Is this normal or does my child have a sensory processing disorder?

Is this normal or does my child have a sensory processing disorder?

by Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Lauren Geers, MOTR/L

It’s quickly becoming that time when kids are heading to their first day of school for the new year. Returning to school can bring out many different emotions such as the nervous jitters! But it can also bring out more concerning behaviors. As a parent, it can difficult to determine if the behaviors observed in the classroom setting are typical for their age and the given situation, or if the behaviors could indicate another underlying issue – sensory processing disorder (SPD).

Sensory processing disorder is a complex disorder where children misinterpret everyday sensory information such as touch, sound or movement. They may feel overwhelmed by information, seek out extra input or seem unaware of sensations (STAR institute, 2017).

Below are some red flags that could indicate possible SPD for preschoolers and grade schoolers

Preschoolers (STAR institute, 2017)

  • Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, other children (can be one or all of these)
  • Difficulty playing with other children
  • Difficulty with dressing, eating, falling and/or staying sleeping, toileting
  • Clumsy (frequently falls or trips)
  • In constant motion
  • Poor awareness of personal space
  • Frequent and/or long temper tantrums

Grade schoolers (STAR institute, 2017)

  • Over-sensitive to touch, noise, smells, other children (can be one or all of these)
  • Easily distracted and/or fidgety
  • Craves movement and/or in constant motion
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Easily overwhelmed
  • Difficulty with handwriting including holding a pencil
  • Difficulty with making and keeping friends
  • Unaware of pain
  • Unaware of other people and/or poor awareness of personal space

If your child has more than a few of the symptoms listed above, it may be beneficial to discuss the concerns with your doctor and seek an occupational therapy referral. Sensory integration therapy with an occupational therapist will assist your child in recognizing their unique sensory needs, implementation of strategies for use at home/school, and developing automatic and appropriate responses to sensations so that activities can be accomplished.

Please get in touch with us at the Pediatric Rehab facility in Grand Haven if you would like more information (616) 847-5293.

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