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 Vestibular Dysfunction:

The vestibular system provides us with information regarding our head position in relation to gravity, and gives information about speed and directionality of movement. It also plays a key role in the development of hand dominance, balance, bilateral coordination, and maintaining a steady visual field. Children who are over responsive to vestibular input may be extremely fearful of movement activities and appear overly cautious during play. Children who are under responsive may be in constant movement and take excessive risks during play.

Does your child:

  • Avoid playground equipment or only use swings by lying on his stomach and pushing off the ground with his feet?
  • Dislike elevators or escalators?
  • Avoid walking on uneven surfaces, or need to watch the placement of his feet when walking on uneven ground?
  • Show fear of his head being tipped away from vertical, such as tipping his head back during hair washing?
  • Have difficulty with balance activities such as bike riding or hopping on one foot?swing jump
  • Fail to catch himself when falling?
  • Rock or constantly change position when sitting?
  • Tend to be in constant movement, more than other children his age?
  • Seem to be a “thrill seeker” and take excessive risks during play?
  • Constantly jump from furniture, spin excessively on swings or place his body in inverted positions?

Last Week: The Tactile System

Next Week: The Proprioceptive System

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