“Sensory processing is the way the nervous system receives sensory messages and turns them into responses”Miller & roetenberg, 2014, p. 6)
At every moment, our bodies are engaged in processing sensory information. We each process sensory information in a unique way. Thus, we all have sensory processing differences.
Sometimes, individuals encounter challenges in sensory processing or integration. This is particularly true in times of stress or resource depletion, but can also be true in childhood development.
These challenges can be anywhere on the continuum of mild or intermittent to severe or long lasting. When the challenges are severe or long lasting, they often impact relationships especially within the family unit and result in a lack of foundational abilities at school, home, and in the community. It is this impact on function that begs us to pay more attention to that person’s sensory processing.
Sensory processing disorder is real AND it is complex. You may see patterns of over-responding and patterns of under-responding in the same individual. In fact, there are several patterns that have emerged as sensory processing profiles. While there are common groupings of features, each individual is unique.
So, let’s say there is a behavior you are noticing in your child that you think may have a sensory basis. The important thing to do is to get curious about what you see. Become a detective. To help you do this, I have created a sensory checklist.
This check list contains evidence-based indicators of sensory processing differences. You can think of the indicators as “red flags” – because the indicators may be asking you to pay more attention to that experience.
These indicators DO NOT mean there is anything wrong with your child. They simply indicate there is something in their sensory processing that merits attention.
If you put check marks beside these indicators…
- Get curious about that indicator. Start watching to see if you think that particular difference is negatively impacting his/her function
- If you are concerned, bring the checklist to your pediatrician along with notes you make about your observations.
- If your concerns persist or if these indicators start showing up in multiple environments (school + home), ask for an occupational therapy evaluation.
Jorquera-Cabrera, S., Romero-Ayuso, D., Rodriguez-Gil, G., & Triviño-Juárez, J.M. (2017). Assessment of Sensory Processing Characteristics in Children between 3 and 11 Years Old: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 5, 57–57. https://doi.org/10.3389/fped.2017.00057
Miller, L. J., Fuller, D. A., & Roetenberg, J. (2014). Sensational kids: Hope and help for children with sensory processing disorder (SPD). Penguin Group.
Red flags for spd. https://sensoryhealth.org/basic/red-flags-for-spd.