Red Flags for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month. Each Tuesday in October, we will share some of the “red flags” of SPD.

Many parents of children with sensory processing difficulties report feeling that something was “off” with their child, but they were unable to identify the source. The following list includes some of the red flags we as occupational therapists look for when evaluating a child for sensory dysfunction. If you are concerned about your child’s development and ability to process sensory input, speak with your pediatrician, or give us a call at the Center to discuss the potential need for an evaluation.

Signs of Tactile Dysfunction

The tactile system allows us to identify what we are touching, where we are being touched and if the item is safe to touch. Some children with SPD are over responsive to tactile input. Over responsive children will notice and become bothered by tactile input long before their peers. Other children are under responsive, and will lack a typical awareness of tactile input or seek out excessive amounts of touch experiences.

Does your child:

  • Become fearful or aggressive with light or unexpected touch?
  • Avoid standing in close proximity to peers to avoid being touched?
  • Show excessive distress, compared to other children his age, to hair brushing, cutting or washing? Tooth brushing, nail trimming or other routine hygiene tasks?messy hands
  • Dislike kisses and tend to “wipe off” a kiss?
  • Refuse to wear clothing with rough textures, such as jeans, avoid belts, turtlenecks or hats, or become distressed by the seams in socks?
  • Avoid “messy play” activities, such as glue, paint, glitter, mud, etc. or frequently request to wash his hands?
  • Have difficulty adjusting clothing at a change of seasons?
  • Typically prefer to touch rather than be touched?
  • Refuse to walk barefoot on grass or sand?
  • Seem to crave touch, and needs to touch everything and everyone?
  • Not notice that his hands are dirty or his nose is running?
  • Leave clothing articles twisted and not notice?
  • Mouth objects excessively after the age of 2?
  • Have a hard time locating an object in a backpack by touch alone?

Next Week: The Vestibular System

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