Have you ever felt like on some days everything seems to be going wrong? Things spill, you trip over things you would usually see, the usual noises irritate you, the clothes on your back seem to be sticking to you in the most irritating way? It may be one or more or all these that make you feel completely disoriented or disorganized that day. We are lucky that these days are rare and at the most, far between! Not everyone is that lucky! There are those with sensory processing disorder/ dysfunction or SPD who experience it every day and sometimes all day!
Sensory issues are invisible to the eye. We only see the strange behaviour. We might see them spinning around relentlessly, eating everything from chalk to stones, And very often pass judgement without the slightest inkling of the distress they are experiencing. Most times those with SPD are so overpowered by their sensory issues that they are not aware of how their behaviour or responses are so out of the ordinary.
To understand a little better what is happening with those with SPD, its important to know our sensory system. We have 5 far senses that provide us information from the world around us. There are 2 senses on the inside of our body, the vestibular and the proprioceptive senses, that inform the brain of the state of the body. The primary function of our senses is to keep us safe. And our brain will first focus on our wellbeing before it pays attention to anything happening around us. So if we are to pay attention, we would need to first convince our brain that we are in a state of equilibrium or balance, we are safe and we are well. So for any child to learn, he has to be able to focus on the world outside his body.
We all have days when we are not in a state of balance or equilibrium. We are able to take care of the need, be it hunger or a headache or a stomach ache. We are still in control and hence we do not have a dysfunction. It is when the senses are in extreme levels of receiving or responding and when it happens more often than not, that we would need to check for a dysfunction. When we have hypersensitivity, our senses respond in three possible ways; by fleeing, by fighting or freezing. When any of the senses are hyposensitivity, we respond by seeking.
It is important to be mindful of Sensory dysfunctions since we only see the inappropriate responses. SPD can exist by itself and as aco-morbidity with Autism, ADHD, Learning Disorders, to name a few. The good news is that there are ways to help those with SPD. This is a very gently written article that shares some ideas
An Occupational Therapist would also be able to help address SPD. We at Samatha Learning Center inculcate exercises from Brain Gym therapy and HANDLE to address these concerns in the children who study with us.