Sensory Processing Sensitivity in Children

Jessica Conaway, MS
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Play Therapist


Sensory Processing sensitivity in children

Sensory Processing Disorder is a term used to describe individuals that are oversensitive or under sensitive to sensory input in their environment, although not listed in the DSM it is widely recognized among specialist. Having a child who develops symptoms of SPD can be challenging and often confusing to parents.  Children with sensory processing issues can be oversensitive to sights, sounds, textures, flavors, smells and other sensory input. This can make a trip to a toy store or trying a new dish at a restaurant an overwhelming experience for them.

Other children with sensory processing issues are under sensitive to information they receive through the senses. This can lead to having a high tolerance for or indifference to pain. They may be “sensory seeking,” meaning they have a constant need to touch people or things—even when it’s not appropriate.

Sensory processing issues can impact a child’s social skills. It can also cause difficulties in the classroom. Learning more about sensory processing issues and possible treatments is a good first step in getting help for your child.

For kids with sensory processing issues, dealing with sensory information can be frustrating and confusing. Here’s how it can affect certain skills.

  • Resistance to change and trouble focusing: It can be a struggle for kids with sensory processing issues to adjust to new surroundings and situations. It can take them a long time to settle into activities. They might feel stressed out and highly resistant to change or transitions.
  • Lack of social skills: Oversensitive kids may feel anxious and irritable around other kids, making it hard to socialize. Under sensitive kids, on the other hand, may be too rough with others. Other kids might avoid them on the playground or exclude them from birthday parties.
  • Poor self-control: Children who feel anxious or overstimulated may have trouble controlling their impulses. They might run off suddenly or react destructively to a loud toy.


Recommendation for treating SPD:

Once your child is identified as having sensory processing issues, you can seek treatment and support from professionals. Here are some options to consider: Seek out occupational therapy and a child therapist (Mental Health Counselor) who is sensory aware. Mental Health counselors can help you to rule out ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, which can have similar symptoms. They can also provide sensory options that are appropriate outlets for your child therefore decreasing anxiety and outbursts. For a free consultation with a sensory aware therapist call 407-355-7378.