Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder is characterized by over or under sensitivity to the stimulation received from the child’s 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

Underactive Sensory Processing Disorder

These kids either run around on rocks and sticks with no shoes and don’t care or even bother to wear a coat. They don’t respond like normal children when they get hurt. Sometimes they don’t even notice they got a cut. These have underactive Sensory Processing Disorder. Some are severe enough that they hurt themselves just so they can feel something. And because they don’t feel pain well, some hurt others not knowing the extent of it.

These kids hate to eat because their sense of taste is weak, so they base their food experiences on texture and color. They hate green flecks in their food, grainy foods and mixed textures. Eating can be daily drama.

Overactive Sensory Processing Disorder

These are the kids that smell everything. “Who didn’t brush their teeth?” “What’s burning?” “Puppy stinks.” They cannot stand the tag in their shirt, the seam on their socks irritates them. They don’t like crowds because they get over stimulated. They want to skip parties and play alone at home. They also struggle with food. It seems to be hallmark for Sensory Processing Disorder. They can taste much stronger than us which makes most food repulsive. They pull away from a pat on the shoulder or a hug. Some have ‘melt downs’ easier than most children.

Click here to read more about Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms.

Is there Intervention?

Unlock Brilliance MethodYes! Specialists have found that both over and underactive sensory issues can improve by balancing out their sensory and cognitive functions. When tested, many children had overactive sensory processing in some areas and underactive sensory processing in other areas. Testing and strengthening the underactive areas helped balance their sensory system and calm the overactive areas.

The good news is that the tests and exercises are easy enough to do right at home. You can get started on these with our Unlock Brilliance exercises.

If you prefer to have a professional do it, we have found that an Occupational Therapist or the Brain Balance Centers are great. The Brain Balance centers are all over the U.S. and most are trained in Sensory Processing Disorder remediation.

Hang in there.

More information is coming forward now than ever. There is new brain scanning equipment and studies happening that are shedding light on the causes and interventions. SPD can improve and in many cases be reversed.

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms

Sensory Processing Disorder in simple terms is a disorder in how the nervous system receives and processes messages from its senses. Sometimes, it may affect one sense, sometimes it may affect several. Symptoms may also be inconsistent, more sever one day and not the next.  Just because a child has some these symptoms doesn’t mean they have Sensory Processing Disorder. Symptoms can also vary from severe to mild.

A child may have Hypersensitivities, where their senses are over responsive to stimulants. Or, they may have Hypo sensitivities, where they are under responsive to stimulants.  See the lists below for symptoms to both. Click here to read more about Sensory Processing Disorder.


Hypersensitivity (Over-Responsive)

  • Fear of loud noises
  • Fearful of crowds
  • Avoids touch and cuddling
  • Poor balance
  • May affect one sense, or many
  • May be a fussy baby
  • Textures will irritate them (like food textures)
  • Don’t like change
  • Will frequently throw tantrums
  • Background noise will bother them
  • May find clothing irritating
  • Low pain threshold
  • Bright colors irritate them
  • Lack of social skills
  • Poor self control
  • May notice sounds others don’t
  • Screaming if their face gets something on it (like it gets wet)
  • Fearful of crowds
  • Anxious and worried about their safety
  • Reluctant to play on the playground
  • Dislike washing hair, cutting nails, brushing teeth, etc.
  • Dislikes getting dirty
  • Oversensitive to odors
  • Have difficulties calming down when they get upset


Hyposensitivity (Under-Responsive)


  • In constant motion
  • Not bothered by injuries like cuts and bruises
  • Craves fast and intense movement
  • Likes messy play
  • Spinning doesn’t make them dizzy easily
  • Loves fast and intense rides at amusement parks
  • Doesn’t physically feel things very well
  • Moves or squirms even when sitting down
  • Craves touch
  • May not be aware hands or face is dirty
  • Self abusive
  • Hurts other kids or pets when playing
  • Prefers foods that are very flavorful
  • Loves to swing as high as possible
  • Doesn’t respond well to verbal cues
  • Will make noise for no apparent reason
  • Appears confused about where sound is coming from
  • Excessive drooling past the teething phase
  • Will be a thrill seeker
  • Loves being tossed in the air
  • Can never get enough flavor on their food
  • Struggles discrimination bad smells
  • Poor muscle tone and/or coordination
  • Difficulty telling similar letters or figures apart (Like i & l, d & b, etc.)


You can see by the symptoms above how this would be a difficult thing for a children and adults to deal with. Some cases may be severe enough to prove dangerous if they hurt themselves. If you suspect your child has Sensory Processing Disorder, you should get a diagnosis from a professional.

Symptoms can vary from person to person and no two children are the same, so your child may also display different symptoms than the ones listed above. Despite your child’s diagnosis, these interventions can be helpful.

Click here to learn more about Sensory Processing Disorder