Does my child have sensory processing disorder? - Autism Awareness
Does my child have sensory processing disorder? Boy with hands over ears.

Does my child have sensory processing disorder?

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) has long been associated with autism, and its external manifestations are often what lead a parent to getting a diagnosis. For a many years SPD was seen as a “symptom” of autism, but a breakthrough study in 2013 found that this disorder had a biological basis that separated it from many other neurological disorders. More recently it was found that SPD is actually a stand-alone disorder, and that children can have SPD and not autism, and vice versa.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

SPD (formerly called Sensory Integration Disorder) is a condition where the brain and nervous system have trouble processing or integrating stimulus. SPD is a neurophysiological condition in which sensory input – either from the environment or from one’s body- is poorly detected, or interpreted and (or) to which atypical responses are observed. For a child with SPD, processing the feelings of hot or cold, tired, hungry, lights and sound can be challenging and overwhelming. SPD can even evoke irregular responses that can cause health issues like not registering temperature in a typical way that allows the individual to dress appropriately for health and safety’s sake. Like with autism, SPD exists on a spectrum and can affect only one sense like hearing, or taste, or all of them. As a parent, the real challenges of SPD are figuring out if your child is hurt, cold, hungry etc…and then helping them get to the point where they can regulate themselves.

Signs that your child might have Sensory Processing Disorder

  1. SPD can show up as over OR under responsive to stimulation from sight, sound, touch etc…Things that should cause discomfort like being too hot or too cold prompt little response, and other things like a dog barking can cause a response akin to physical distress and extreme anxiety.
  2. Intolerance to textures and certain clothing: some children with SPD cannot stand the way certain clothing feels on their bodies. They need simple styles with very few seams, and have to have to labels taken out. They may not be able to wear certain fabrics like wool.
  3. Intolerance to certain noises or loud noises: some children with SPD hate the sound of vacuums, sirens, or crying babies. These noises can cause what feels like physical pain to those with SPD, and make it difficult to concentrate or function.
  4. Food textures and colours causing extreme responses. Many of us with kids on the spectrum have to help our children navigate this issue.
  5. Difficulty using fine motor skills like using crayons or pens, putting small clothing on dolls, or using buttons on clothing for themselves.
  6. Difficulty with change or transitions. While all young children need transition time, a child with SPD can have real problems with switching from one activity to another, moving rooms or houses, changing classrooms, or even if you change curtains in your home. Change can cause meltdowns or total withdrawal depending on the child.
  7. Clumsiness: bumping into things or people. Those with SPD sometimes have difficulty knowing where their own bodies are in space. They can also be overwhelmed by their environment causing them to “not see” furniture or people around them.

There is quite a thorough SPD checklist here that can be helpful if you suspect your child might be struggling with this disorder. A doctor can then refer your child to a specialist for further testing. There is also a great article by occupational therapist Paula Aquilla that describes what SPD can feel like, and different ways it can manifest here.

Is there any way to treat Sensory Processing Disorder?

Yes, there are many ways to treat SPD, and the trick is to find the right one – or combination of different ones – to help your child. Occupational therapists who are skilled at sensory issues can be very helpful. Some things might just need to be left out of the diet, or in the closet until your child is old enough to develop coping mechanisms on their own. The most important thing to remember is that every person with SPD is different and will experience the world in ways that you might not understand. Developing a mutual “language” around what they are feeling and experiencing ( even if that language is non-verbal) will be one of the best tools you can help develop. As Paula Aquilla said:

The key to understanding a person’s response to sensation or their need to seek out sensation is to observe with an open mind and without judgement. We can all become detectives to determine possible underlying reasons for a child’s response to the sensation we present when we want to interact.





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  1. Joana Araújo says:

    My almost 5 years daughter always had problems with clothes, she only wear leghins and simple dresses, in summer she needs to wear shorts to sit in car seat. Car seat is a problem for her is really hard for her to sit and put the sit belt. She is always fixing her underwear. Certain noises make her nervous like dry hands in public toilets or hoover at home. Do you think she has SPD?

    • Joana, all people have sensory preferences and things that bother them. Have a look at this article to see if your daughter has some of the other SPD symptoms – As children mature, so does their ability to self-regulate so what you are seeing now may just be an inability to process some sensory input. If you are concerned, speak to your doctor and see if you can get a referral to an occupation therapist who can then do a formal assessment.

  2. Sonyia says:

    My 4 year old son has a hard time with certain sounds, textures of food, concentrating when talking and does not like touching hot or cold things. He is very scared of the sounds of the vacuum, certain pitches on the TV mostly, any “loud” sound basically. He is terrified of the sound of hair clippers. He will hold the clipper, but as soon as it’s on he freaks out! Cutting his hair is like torture for him and I absolutely hate it when he gets that upset, it’s so sad. He will cover his ears and say, “too loud!” He will not touch a popsicle or ice-cream because it’s cold. If she decides he doesn’t want something on his plate or by him, he gets upset till its gone. It might sound like he is spoiled or something, but it’s not like that. He is also very very clumsy. He smacks into things constantly and falls a lot. His dad has autism and I have ADHD. I don’t know if this plays a part in anything going on with him. Besides all of that he is a happy and healthy little boy.

  3. Gemma says:

    I believe my daughter may have sensory needs.

    But I’m not 100%.

    She is nearly 7.

    She has always been clumsy. Fast and flits from things quickly. We often refer to her as a whirlwind.

    She enjoys very messy play, and is often found with her hands in mud or ground or water or slime. She finds water play therapeutic and we often pop her in the bath or shower when she is over stimulated by a situation.

    She thumps her feet when she is cross, and hits out. She is extreamly loud. And when I dry her hair after a bath or shower, she will sing louder than the hair dryer. And often cries and becomes over stimulated with the noise of the hairdryer.

    Shes very heavy handed, though I have always put that down to being like me. As I am like a bull in a China shop myself. But she is also very clumsy, she will knock things over and you can 100% guarantee that if you put a glass of juice in front of her she will knock it over.

    She plays with people’s ears to calm herself, and I have recently learnt that she even asks a friend at school if she can play with her ears. She doesn’t sleep without playing with either mine or my husbands ears. In fact, she still can’t sleep on her own. She will take over an hour to go to sleep and one of us has to sleep by her the entire time. If we move she is known for waking straight back up again. She very rarely sleeps through the night unless we put a massive stuffed toy in her bed and a weighted blanket over her. But she doesn’t sleep soundly. She twitches and jumps in her sleep. Which she has done since the day she was born. As they thought she had meningitis because her arms wavesld as she jumped as a new born.

    She likes her shoes very tight, and doesn’t generally like labels. She will only wear certain types of pants with no seam.

    She is very messy. And doesn’t seem to notice the food stuck to her face.

    After reading all of this, do you think it all just sounds like a normal 7 year old?

    Her school says this is all normal…

    I’m at my wits end.

  4. Matt says:

    My son is 5 and having swimming lessons but really struggles with putting his ears in the water.  Could this be categorised to a sensory processing disorder or is it a fairly generic response to the feeling of water in and around the ears?   

    • This can be a fairly generic response to being around water. I would suggest trying earplugs to see if that alleviates the discomfort. Many people to do not like the sensation of water going into their ears.

  5. Julia says:

    Hi, my nearly 4 year old has retched on quite a few occasions when his big sister has had bath bombs, slime, and bath ribbons when they turn gooey, but has no emotional reaction to the products. He is happy to play nearby and has no other signs of autism that I can see (he has preferences such as fleece/soft/stretchy clothes but will wear jeans etc when his Dad dresses him). As he shows no other signs (he’s social, not bothered by lights etc) is this something I should look into, or not as it’s isolated ?

  6. Bella says:

    My son just turned 3 a month ago and I have some concerns. While he is making all his milestones, has a great vocabulary and ability to express his needs, he struggles with wearing clothing. He often complains his pants are too tight, his socks hurt, or his sneakers aren’t on the right way. He struggles to transition to new settings especially busy, chaotic, loud ones. We went to a children’s museum and he wanted to be held and shared it was too loud. He doesn’t like windy days and dislikes wet clothing. He is very intune with his emotions, the emotions of those around him, and can say he is feeling scared or frustrated (better than my other children at his age). He recently regressed with potty training and is refusing to sit on toilet. He also refuses to eat most meat.

  7. ching Barcelona says:

    hi, my 9 years old daughter is always playing some sticky/liquid stuff like glue, lotion, shampoo or anything that she could mixed together. and why everytime she have done something wrong why she kept on denying it. which leads her to tell a lie because she cannot admit her wrong.and why everytime we asked her why she did it she will not answer us. and she doesn’t have a emotional response to other people.

    • Is there a specific question that you want to ask me? I am not able to diagnose children when I am given a list of concerns. I am a parent of two autistic adults and do not have a medical background. If you have concerns about your daughter’s development, you need to speak with your doctor. I can’t even respond to what you have said as I have never met your daughter nor do I know her circumstances or what her life is like at home.

  8. Candy says:

    Hi my daughter 18 months old looks like sensitive to loud noise , she shakes her head side to side or rocking or spins in circles or closes her ears when exposed to Hoover, blender, hair dryer, loud music etc .so far she is good in many aspects like eye contact, social , met physical milestones in advance , interactive ,responds to her name etc .I am very much worried will she outgrew such behavior or not .is this SPD ? 

  9. Kendal says:

    Hi I have an almost 3 year old who doesn’t like some loud noises and will get really upset for example a hedge trimmer, leaf blower, hand dryer. More recently when at a playground she doesn’t like when the swing wobbles after using it, the zip line wobbling and hanging light switch wobbling. These are all very new and she will get upset and distressed about it to the point of us having to leave the playground. Would this be a sensory disorder?
    How can I help her?

  10. klaudiakunysz.kk says:

    Hi. My son is 11. Although I was taking him to doctors since he was 4yrars old as I could notice he is different I thought he might be autistic but they never diagnosed him with that. Some psychologist said they don’t want to put “labels”. My son is very clumsy like he don’t realise others around him or furniture. His coordination is very bad. There is nothing in sports that he is good at. He is very picking with his food he won’t eat veg only some fruits. He won’t drink anything sparkling. When he talk to you and he had to wait before he te me for example someone interrupt him or im on the phone he will forgot what he wanted to ask me . He will bot strart a simple question like straight away he will be like mum? I will say yes and then agin mum? You know what? What? Mum? Do you know what? Guess what? So on so on… finally he will get to the point buy is long and conversation with him are very hard. Something you can get a nice conversation qith him but the way he says things or what he says sound silly and more something you will expect to hear from 5year old not 11. When he need to carry things for example a drink if he won’t spill it it would be a miracle even even standing on the table in front of him. When hi makes him self a squash qhen he fills glass with wather it seems like he don’t know when to stop to not overflow the glass. He gets very angry at some poits when he shouts really loud in aggression when his sister annoying him. He is daleyed a lot with his learning at school and he struggles to stay stay concentrated. He is often in his own world he can qalk in circles or jump on trampolin thinking about something but that will take him ss long as someone will interrupt him. When I talk to him while he is doing that I have to call his name several times to get his attention. When I ask him for example Michael go to your bedroom pick up dirty clothes from the floor and put them to washing basket he will forgot what I ask him in mid of stairs. Often I finding pointless asking him to do any task cos it take him either forever or he will make it worst by braking something that I rather to do ot myself. He is in his own bubble very often. And honestly there is so much more things. Like I said I went to doctors with him he has been seen by psychologist and other people and no one diagnosed him with anything. I don’t know where to look for help.

    • Klaudia, you are describing a lot of autistic traits. It is important to have your son diagnosed correctly as he will need additional support as he goes on in life. Please seek a second opinion. If you are not sure who to go to, I would contact your local autism society to see if they have a list of psychologists or doctors who diagnose autism. Not all medical professionals are trained to diagnose autism. My own pediatrician told me my son was not autistic – guess what? He was and so was my daughter. I had to persist to get a diagnosis as the first two doctors I saw said no, my son was not autistic. It’s not an uncommon story.

  11. Beth says:

    My daughter is 3.5years and from almost weaning stage (by 14 months definitely) she was gagging/refusing certain foods. She can’t even look at egg mayo, cream or white looking ‘sauce’ without gagging. She gags when I put clothes on over her head but okay once on. Whilst she is okay with sounds she often says “what’s that noise” which could be anything from the fridge to the dog barking. SPD sounds pretty much spot on – would you agree? 

    • I would ask for a consultation with an occupational therapist to see if this is indeed SPD. Just having a few sensory preferences or aversions does not necessarily warrant a diagnosis. An entire profile has to be present.

      Children with sensory processing disorder do not respond normally to stimuli that others would not be affected by in one of three ways. They may be over-responsive (also called hyper-responsive) to bright lights; loud, sudden, or sustained sounds (the whirr of a blender, say, or even music); the sensation of scratchy or itchy fabrics such as wool or clothing tags against their skin; and certain tastes or smells. Such over-responsivity to outside stimuli can cause a child to have anxiety, trouble engaging in routine activities, and difficulty adapting to new situations. Over-responsive reactions can be mild or so debilitating a child must leave the situation immediately. As a result, it can be hard for children with SPD to engage with other kids.

      If you feel your daughter fits this profile, please consult with your family doctor who can then refer you to an occupational therapist.

  12. Shelly Anderson says:

    My 2.5 year old son started vomiting when a shirt is put on him -had a thorough exam by a doctor and was told there is no medical reason for this.  This vomiting happened the other day when I showed him some new shirts I bought for him.  Now he is vomiting when his shoes are put on him.  Any ideas?

  13. Glenys Smart says:

    My 11 year old daughter has a serious aversion to soap and lotions of any kind. I don’t think it’s a texture thing as she loves slime. She just keeps saying they are disgusting. It is making showers and washing very difficult, I still have to wash her as she refuses to wash her hair herself. As a result she constantly has greasy itchy hair with bad dandruff. I don’t know how to help her solve this issue, any ideas would be great.

  14. Daisy says:

    My daughter Molly, 12, is a virtual student. She is struggling and I wondered if there are any resources you could point me to in order to work on some of these difficulties. This is her fourth year as a virtual student. The struggles have always been present, but seem to be getting worse.

    Molly has an extremely low tolerance for frustration. This affects her school work in that any new thing she doesn’t immediately understand can cause her to explode and shut down. She is perpetually annoyed. She has difficulty with sounds, smells, textures, facial expressions of others, the way people pronounce certain words, chewing sounds, slurping sounds, even certain types of animation, etc. She is very literal. She ALWAYS wears the same outfit and hates socks/shoes and never wears them. She has extreme difficulty following through on clean up tasks or keeping things organized. She has a lot of anxiety around food. She eats a limited diet and often chooses not to eat at restaurants. She has an extreme phobia of throwing up. She has very little patience and often has a self centered view of situations. She needs a lot of movement. Her communication and tone is often rude. One of her teachers mentioned that he did not “care for the way she communicates,” during conferences. She is often anxious and extremely agitated, but is very concerned about what teachers think of her at the same time.

    Molly is also very creative. She loves inventing, experimenting, cooking, climbing, exploring nature, etc. She does very well when we travel and adapts easily to new places. She has empathy in many situations and wants to make people happy. She loves making cards and gifts for others. She truly seems to struggle with overcoming her aversions and frustrations to the point that it affects her relationships and her productivity.

    Do you have suggestions on where to start in getting her some strategies for coping with these difficulties? I am wondering if she needs to be evaluated for sensory issues, adhd, or if she is just a highly sensitive person and needs help managing that. Any guidance would be appreciated.

  15. Riana F says:

    My daughter, Molly 12, is a 6th grade virtual student. She is struggling and I wondered if there are any resources you could point me to in order to work on some of these difficulties. This is her fourth year as a virtual student. The struggles have always been present, but seem to be getting worse.

    Molly has an extremely low tolerance for frustration. This affects her school work in that any new thing she doesn’t immediately understand can cause her to explode and shut down. She is perpetually annoyed. She has difficulty with sounds, smells, textures, facial expressions of others, the way people pronounce certain words, chewing sounds, slurping sounds, even certain types of animation, etc. She is very literal. She ALWAYS wears the same outfit and hates socks/shoes and never wears them. She has extreme difficulty following through on clean up tasks or keeping things organized. She has a lot of anxiety around food. She eats a limited diet and often chooses not to eat at restaurants. She has an extreme phobia of throwing up. She has very little patience and often has a self centered view of situations. She needs a lot of movement. Her communication and tone is often rude. One of her teachers mentioned that he did not “care for the way she communicates,” during conferences. She is often anxious and extremely agitated, but is very concerned about what teachers think of her at the same time.

    Molly is also very creative. She loves inventing, experimenting, cooking, climbing, exploring nature, etc. She does very well when we travel and adapts easily to new places. She has empathy in many situations and wants to make people happy. She loves making cards and gifts for others. She truly seems to struggle with overcoming her aversions and frustrations to the point that it affects her relationships and her productivity.

    Do you have suggestions on where to start in getting her some strategies for coping with these difficulties? I am wondering if she needs to be evaluated for sensory issues, adhd, or if she is just a highly sensitive person and needs help managing that. Any guidance would be appreciated.

  16. Cherry says:

    My 28 month old has been covering his ears with certain sounds such as when people around him laugh, or talk a bit more loudly, or the Vitamix, or the mechanical sound of an automatic car trunk closing, or certain sounds on the tv. But he’s fine with other louder sounds like the vacuum or hair dryer. He also has a lot of tantrums/meltdowns, like up to 4 or 5 times a day. Mostly less than 5 -10 min but he’s had 2 that’s been almost an hour in the last 2 weeks. With the longer intense meltdowns he will throw his head back onto the floor or bite me or himself. He’s also been sick with a cold a lot since he goes to daycare so that could be a contributing factor to the tantrums. 

    Otherwise, as far as I can tell, he is developmentally on track. 

    Does this sound like autism features?

  17. Gemma says:

    My nearly 6 year old daughter wants to be naked all the time. She will only wear one shirt and one pair of pants. She will avoid leaving the house (even if we are doing something fun) as she does not want to put clothes on. Now we are in winter it is even more difficult as she won’t wear a coat or warm shoes so is freezing cold whenever we do leave the house. She sits in the car naked in the ride to school and only puts on her clothes at a snails pace when we arrive. She stated refusing to sleep in her bed about 2 months ago and instead sleeps on the floor. Our family is at its wits end. I just don’t know how to help her. 

  18. Kellie says:

    My daughter is 4, she is constantly pulling up her sleeves, even though they’re already pulled up and have not fallen at all. She will pull them up and push her upper arm really close to her body, then do the same on the next arm. Am I overthinking this? It’s been going on for quite some time now, even when she has on short sleeves. 

    • You are overthinking this. She may be doing this as a way to alert herself, she may find deep pressure calming which a pushed up sleeve can provide as well as the arms close to the body, or this may give her proprioceptive feedback of where her body is in a space.

  19. cheryl says:

    I have purchased new clothes for grandson, he is committed to wearing the same clothes. He throws a way new clothes and he can’t tell me, why he throws clothes away. He does not like to sleep on a pillowcase and sleeps on top of a comforter.
    When asked why or attempt to get full details on the issue, he cant remember. It can become frustrating

  20. Jess says:

    Hi, my son is 3 in a couple of months and for the last 6 months we’ve noticed he is sensitive to the wind. He doesn’t have tantrums or meltdowns, but if it’s windy outside he will complain until we go back inside. We can’t go to the playground if it’s too windy or be in our backyard – even if it’s just a slightly stronger breeze. 
    We haven’t noticed any other sensory issues and fine and gross motor skills are fine. He was on the slower side of walking and talking but not considered an issue. 
    We aren’t sure if this is something we should be looking into more or whether it was a response to a severe weather event we had earlier this year. It was extremely windy one day, and that’s when we taught him the word windy and it really has been ever since then we’ve noticed his sensitivity to the wind. 

    • Almost everyone has things that bother them from a sensory perspective. The wind is a common one. Wearing a tuque or hat can dampen the sound of the wind. It’s usually the whistling sound that people don’t like.

  21. Mama says:

    My 13 y/o has issues with how cardboard, other thick paper, old school wooden pencils feel. There’s also an issue with him doing up buttons. Which is incredibly awkward when it comes to jeans. They also throw a temper tantrum when their turn is up with various technological devices (phone, tablet, gaming systems.) They also won’t tie their shoes properly despite me trying since they were about five. Is it wrong that I try to make them get over various things such as using a regular pencil if it’s all we’ve got; or opening a box and buttoning their own jeans? They do have ADHD and microcephaly but there’s nothing serious with the latter diagnosis. They just have a smaller head circumference.

    • You have to reframe how you are viewing your son’s struggles. If he could perform these skills, he would. You are describing fine motor skill difficulties. I would consult an occupational therapist for help in this area. Microcephaly can cause coordination and balance problems as well as affect intelligence, development and speech.

      For the tech devices, there may need to be more structure provided around their use. You may find this article that I wrote on screen time helpful –

  22. Roseanne Kay says:

    Hi my 4 year old son runs off whenever he is outside and often ends up having a meltdown. He cries his eyes out to certain loud noises like the hair dryer, will not let me cut his hair and gags on food and will only eat pizza and cheese sandwiches. Certain loud noises make him run around the house in the circles. He will only wear certain clothes and will not wear trousers in the house, just a tshirt but he will wear his clothes at school. He has had sleep problems since he was born and wakes up a lot in the night. He also has speech delay. He will not eat at all at school but will eat cheese sandwiches and pizza at home. Please could you advice me on what this could possibly be? Thank you. 

  23. Natalie says:

    The problem is as well that he doesn’t make these noises in school whatsoever, they are that frequent at home though it’s as if he’s masking heavily in certain environments  he is very aware of himself and others

  24. Natalie says:

    School haven’t identified what it is they had speech and language come in and assess he’s comprehension level and he did good but said his attention is quite bad 3-4minutes and he needs prompts so this is where we are , we have a visual processing assessment coming up as well as another speech and language appointment that was made directly from my doctor rather than school 

  25. Natalie says:

    Hi my son is 9 but I seems very emotionally immature for his age, he makes lots of vocal noises during play, when he’s sat at the table eating dinner, when his baby sister gets upset and starts crying he starts making the noises, when he’s sat at the table soing school work it seems very linked to his emotions when he does these noises, also he doesn’t like labels on clothing he regularly comments on smells and he can be obsessively clean checking forks and knifes he also has acedemic struggles too lots of trouble with attention and focus within the classroom and has trouble with balance has a lot of falls and accidents etc does this seem like spd? Or more austism related traits? 

    • Natalie, you are describing more than just SPD traits. What does the school say about his progress and performance at school? Have they recommended further assessment?

  26. Tania Ambroise says:

    My 2 year old nephew has the tendency to wave his pointer finger(s) and or other long thin objects such as a pencil, toothbrush, straw, ruler and or a tree branch in his face as a form of simulation. He also likes to pass by objects using his side eye views to focus on them. He also has a fascination with objects that spin such as bicycle and car wheels. Anything that spins pretty much. He chooses to whine the majority of the time as apposed to using his words. He also hits alo whenever he is upset and or excited. What does all of this mean?

  27. Saffiyah khan says:

    My daughter turned three in April . We just had another baby in February. I’m worried about my toddler’s behavior. She throws a tantrum every time the baby coos and screams at the baby for  her to stop . The littlest sounds that comes out of the baby the flips out . She’ never touches the baby  and gets  is becoming more aggressive when she’s around . My toddler has three older siblings so this is very unusual. She has trouble with changes as well and phases out often . She would sometimes stand there and when I’m calling  out to her  she wouldn’t respond unless I touch her. Is this autism ? 

  28. Jenn says:

    My daughter just turned 7 years old. All of her life she has been sensitive to noise, but now that she is in school she stated the kids are too loud and she requested noise cancelling head phones for lunch time and during class. She will only wear a specific brand and material of pants. When speaking directly to us she will not make eye contact and will look to the corner of her eyes instead (we have tried ‘look at mommy please’ and she really resists eye contact). She has a speech delay and and we are inquiring about dysgraphia with her school. She is a very busy child, but can meltdown quickly if overwhelmed or people ‘say to many words all at once’. I have been asked if she has ADHD but I don’t feel like ADHD covers the above mentioned.

    • Jenn, you really need to seek a more in-depth assessment. One place you could start is a consultation with an occupational therapist to see how to best to address your daughter’s sensory needs. An OT can also prescribe a sensory diet –

      You have described a number of characteristic of autism spectrum disorder (lack of eye contact, speech delay, meltdowns, sensory processing issues). Please have a chat with your family doctor about pursuing a more in-depth assessment for your daughter as this could be more than sensory processing disorder.

  29. Mattison says:

    My daugher is 2 1/2 and has been running in circles and  any loud noise such a truck, washer or even a dog barking scares her. She also puts her hands in her mouth a lot when she’s nervous and she does not like change. is this a normal toddler thing or is it something I should be worried about?

  30. Grisel Camino says:

    My daughter is 13 years old and has always had sensory issues however I never thought they were severe enough to warrant a diagnosis. Now as a teen, I believe with the hormones and puberty things may have shifted and she seems to be more sensory seeking. She has issues with her hAir , alwAys needs it up in a ponytail because she says it bothers her. She will wet her hair  and likes the feeling of the wetness on her hands. She is constantly wetting her hands and likes to smooth the water over her face too. Says it feels good. Since little she has always carries around or slept with a satin blanket for the feel and still has it today. She  looks for textures basically to soothe her. She also always says she’s cold, has issues with certain clothes bothering her, like she cannot wear jeans and loves hoodies even on super warm days. It all just seems a little odd to me. Could this be a sensory processing disorder? 

    • You are describing some sensory issues here. What can help is developing a sensory diet if you think this is a problem. Your daughter sounds like she is coping well with her sensory preferences. Everyone has them. Some people like to sleep with heavy blankets on themselves. Some people will only wear natural fibers. If these sensory preferences are not causing harm or affecting her daily functioning, they may not need to be addressed. Here is some information on what a sensory diet is – An occupational therapist does an assessment, and then develops the sensory diet.

  31. Sheila says:

    Hi! I have a 3 1/2 year old who is a twin. He was a premature baby (27 was of pregnancy), stayed at NICU for 2 months (same as his sister) but didn’t have any issues other than help him gain weight, breath 100% on his own. He is a very healthy toddler, loves playing with his sister chasing each other, singing together, etc. He doesn’t get bothered with big crowds or loud noises (used to hate the blender but now loves and runs to the kitchen whenever he heard that noise and want to touch it. He looks at me in the eyes, smiles, can focused on activities (not for forever but at least 10 min). So I don’t think he has autism but what I notice that is different from his sister is a few things: he claps when he gets very excited and screams with a high pitched voice, he was a late walker and I think he still struggles a little bit maintaining balance when he stays in the same spot and likes to lean on something. He is a lot more cautious than his sister when he is climbing in a playground and takes longer. (But I bought them a indoor slide at home and he has mastered it, no fears climbing and sliding fast; however playgrounds stairs takes him a little longer to not be afraid), he eats fruits that are more crunchy (apples, grapes, mandarines) but does not like softer textures like peaches. He can eat rice with milk/sweet rice but refuses to eat regular white rice, same with pasta and mashed potatoes. Still eats his veggies liquefied but eats chicken, hamburgers, bacon, etc.
    He has a language delay, he speaks probably about 50 -70 words but does not put them on phrases yet. When we go to the park he loves to run but prefers to be close to the shade. What do you think he has?  We were concerned about autism but his pediatrician gave us a list with a few questions to see if he had any of those ( doesn’t look at you in your eyes, doesn’t do gestures, doesn’t interact, etc) but he does well on those areas so I don’t know what else to do?

  32. Bridgit says:

    Hello, my daughter who is 6 has always suffered with noise and meltdowns. She gets very agitated if something doesnt go how she wants it. She spends alot of time in her room, and struggles with making friends other than the 1 shes got. For the last year she has been coming out of school saying her belly been hurting her.. I ended up taking her to A&E where a pediatrician came and looked at her and said she had sensory issues.. and they’d get the school nurse to have a look. I’ve spoken to the school but there saying theres nothing they can do. I dont know where to start? I often find her touching her vagina, and I dont know how to explain it to her. I dont know where to start.

  33. Ned says:

    Hi so my son is 11, he has always had melt downs from a baby , he would cry very easily, still does, was always super happy to be on his own, but dies make friends easily , he gags on certain foods cannot cope with lumps in food , when little he would collect sticks and stones and can talk about and get obsessed about certain subjects, he hated his teeth being brushed and if he had a wobbly tooth he would walk around with his mouth open for hours ,he hated his teeth brushed, to the point my husband has to pull tooth out as mouth was getting dry and he wouldn’t eat it drink, the cinema freaked him out, better as older ,tags or certain clothes socks and shoes annoy him and he hates things close to neck, he suffers with anxiety, although he always slept well , he does lately feel anxious at bed time , if he hurt his finger or git a bruise even tiny he would talk about it for days as if his finger fell off. , I would pick him up from school and he would be extremely over whelmed saying “everyone was in my face ” , they weren’t I just he needed a quiet space to much stimulation, he doesn’t like it, also he is clumsy, spills drinks always, he is super clever ,funny,creative , knowledgeable, but writing and holding a own is uncomfortable and he is slow at writing , he has trauma from school as the teacher used to keep him in if he didn’t finish his work, I homeschool now, a combination…. mainly unschooling, lots of reading and guitar playing , maths in a sneaky way, at school we said can he be assessed,they said definitely not autism but possibly SPD??? I’m trying to think of all his other quirks … There’s alot of them, but you wouldn’t know anything was wrong if you meet him , he is super socialized and well able to talk ….. Alot lol Anything flag up here ? Since having him home , his eating is amazing a struggle but super good now, out wieght on, and laughing more .

    • Ned, it is always very difficult for me to comment on a list of symptoms and say yes – it’s ________. It could be SPD, it could be something more with sensory issues as a part of the profile. You are describing sensory issues but also issues of anxiety, dyspraxia, rumination, and interoceptive awareness issues. Please speak with your doctor about your concerns and I would also suggest an assessment from an occupational therapist who can tell you if this is SPD or something more.

  34. Arshe says:

    My baby is 8 months old currently. She has recently started shaking her head from side to side. It happens mostly when she is on the high chair during mealtimes and occasionally while playing. She is otherwise pretty responsive…responds when i call her by her name. She has started cruising and crawls well. The milestones are all okay. Its just the head shaking that’s been bothering me a lot.

  35. Jay says:

    My daughter is 11 and hates her hair being brushed. She slaps my hands to try and stop me. If I leave her to do it she only does the top so it needs brushing through properly. Is this anything to do with SPD?

    • She just may not like the sensation of the feeling of her hair being pulled. I would suggest placing your hand firmly at the top of the hair and then just brushing small sections at a time. You can also hold a small section of hair in your hand at the top and then work your way down those strands. Also experiment with the brush. A wide paddle brush with soft tips may work better than sparse plastic bristles. For a diagnosis of SPD, there are many sensory issues present and they can impair normal functioning.

  36. Deidre says:

    Hello, I have a 9 year old son that has never been diagnosed with anything but we have always wondered if there is something going on. He hates crowds, one on one with friends he’s ok but in a crown situation or meeting new ppl he is very awkward and anxious and would prefer to be at home. Often gets in peoples personal space and doesn’t know how to act well in social situations. He’s not really an angry kid but can have angry outbursts that seem to come from bottled up frustrations in crowd settings.
    He also has trouble with some fine motor skills, hates tying laces because it makes his fingers itchy, hates doing buttons and hates getting his hair done or cut.
    As a preschooler he was very sensitive to loud noises, hated chainsaws, mororbikes and struggled at loud Kindergarten singing times. He does seem to have grown out of this as he’s got older.
    He’s very easily distracted at school and struggles to concentrate sometimes. Also can be very fidgety and can’t stop moving. Like when playing a board game he’ll be rolling around doing forward rolls etc while waiting for his turn.
    I googled some of these symptoms and wonder if he may have SPD.
    Love to hear your thoughts on if you think this could be a possibility.

    • Your son is showing signs of SPD but this could be more than that. You are also describing attention problems, anxiety and social skill difficulties. Please speak to your doctor about these concerns and ask if you can have a referral to an occupational therapist for an assessment for the SPD concerns. You can also speak to the school and ask that your son been seen by the school psychologist for testing. It is always difficult for me to comment on children from just reading descriptions. I am only a parent of two adults with autism and am not formally qualified to assess developmental concerns. Have his teachers raised any red flags?

  37. Alisha Howes says:

    Hi my son is 4 (5 in June) and he is struggling.
    When we are in a room that is loud (too many people or music etc) he crouches onto the floor and covers his ears and yells or cries. Today his class was playing with some buckets and drumming. His teacher posted a video and I can clearly see my son sitting in the middle of it all bent over with his hands over his ears. very clearly not enjoying himself.
    He also if particular about tags, food, He has trouble falling asleep and reacts very strongly to change.

    My initial thoughts have been ADHD (Because I have it) but was also considering SPD or APD and I called our family doc and I felt like I had to pull teeth just to get him to refer my son to a pediatrician to explore what could be going on because the family doc says he’s “too young” to be diagnosed and that “all 4 year old act this way”
    I am waiting for an appointment with a ped now but am nervous I will be told the same thing. I just want my son to be happy. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

  38. Lizzie says:

    My son is 2 and half, he dosnt talk yet, he crawls and has only just started walking around the sofa, he still  eats newborn baby jars and formula milk as he vomits if he has any sort of lump in his food. He has started getting upset when my daughter (6 months old) cry’s or makes any kind of noise really. He’s never really been interested in toys he is obsessed with the telly and certain movies. He has started having meltdowns when he is tired or dosnt get his own way. When excited he lays on the floor and kicks his legs up and down really quickly, I get concerned that it’s hurting the back of his feet. I have been to see dieticians, doctors, physio therapists, I am currently talking to a disabilities specialist. Has anyone else gone through anything similar  

  39. Leigh says:

    I’m pretty confused about my daughters behavior. She’s almost 2. (Her dad and older sister have aspergers) She’s bright and seems to have hit normal milestones. But when there are loud noises like someone yelling, clapping, vacuum, etc…she doesn’t even budge. She’s completely unphased. But she is obsessed with being dizzy, repetitive behaviors, risk taking, weird little ticks like randomly vibrating and swinging her head back and fourth. She loses interest VERY easily. She has never just sat and played with blocks or anything. She’s always on to the next thing. Seems to be very drawn to lights and texture more than the average toddler. She seems social but won’t play with other children for more than 2 seconds before losing interest and running to something else to touch. When she’s upset she will bite herself and and bang her head on the floor but even with that will not last more than a few seconds because she’s on to the next thing. I can only subscribe it as like baby adhd?? She is NEVER still and just wants constant excitement and stimulation.  I know these things can be normal to an extent….but I have 4  other children and all of them sat and played with toys sometimes, even the hyper ones. 

  40. Z. Khan says:

    My son is 4 and gets overwhelmed by surroundings. He doesn’t like to try different foods and is hyper active. Like to chew his t-shirt, scared to sleep on his own and extremely fascinated by spinning objects. Do you think he has spd?

    • He definitely has some sensory needs that need to be addressed to help him regulate. Does he have any language delay? Are there any developmental delays? You can have your son assessed by an occupational therapist and they can help you develop what is called a sensory diet to help him regulate. I am not sure what you mean by “gets overwhelmed by surroundings”. Is he having meltdowns or shutdowns? How do you know he is overwhelmed? I am asking all of these questions as there may be something more involved happening here.

  41. Alyssia Angle says:

    My nephew is really sensitive to sounds that are either right outside the door or that are 3 blocks away. I ‘m almost positive he has SPD. I was wondering how young could he get diagnose? He is 2 years old. Also, I tutor him. I would like to know what therapies are best for me to work with him.

    • Alyssia, an assessment for SPD would be done by an occupational therapist (OT). After an assessment is completed, the OT can then make recommendations on how to best integrate the senses. This is usually done through what we call a sensory diet.

      When you say you tutor him, what do you mean? Do you deliver a preschool program to him?

  42. Kaylynn Cox says:

    My daughter is 11 years old, she is adopted, she has had tantrums since I got her. She was diagnosed with ADHD and behavioral disorder. She is failing school, can’t focus and we have tried all meds available. She will be set off by something small and scream and yell and you cannot her her to stop. Sometimes she says something is to loud and covers her ears. He behavior is almost to much at times.

  43. Olivia says:

    Hi there. I have a 15 month old who will lie herself down on her back, usually whilst holding a toy or when going off to sleep and tenses her body straightening her legs out and them moves them back towards her body in an almost pedalling motion. She concentrates hard when she does it and sometimes makes grunting type sounds. She has done it since she was about 3 months old and I have no idea why she does it. Please let me know if you have any advice on what this could be
    . Thanks so much.

    • I am wondering if she possibly has some gut issues and has abdominal cramps or is trying to pass gas. Do you feed her right before bedtime? Are her bowel movements normal? You can also address this concern with your doctor as they may have more insight on this. Tensing motions can indicate pain or they can be used to alert the body. Are these motions done within an hour of eating?

  44. Brianna says:

    My son is 12 months old. When he is falling asleep or during sleep he will shake his head side to side for the most part it’s harmless but sometimes I will check him in the night and he is violently flailing his head back and forth during sleep and also kicking one of his legs. He does remain asleep though and eventually stop.

    Throughout the day he will clench his fists and stiffen his body if he is holding an object , he also has an unusual movement when he is on his stomach he will start kicking his legs back repeatedly and hold his arms out to the side he will do this several times per day. It doesn’t seem to be related to anything like excitement for example.  

    He also gags a bit during every meal and always has had a sensitive gag reflex but is otherwise a very good eater and is open to all foods and textures.  

    He also loves to put his mouth/face on everything. 

    I also want to mention he is rather clumsy, and he is meeting all his milestones but reluctant to consistently practice them. An example would be he can pull himself  to stand but rarely is interested in doing so at the moment. 

  45. Elaine says:

    I’ve come across solutions like a body-wide sensor network that can capture a child’s motion, EMG, EEG, and GSR readings. How functional and helpful would this type of solution be, if this was used to track the progress of therapies such as with an occupational therapist?

  46. Anna K says:

    Hi there, my daughter has just turned 3 and is meeting all of the usual tested developmental milestones for her age, in terms of gross motor skills, fine motor skills and communication etc. She doesn’t have the typical autistic tendancies, however I feel there is ‘something’. she really struggles with eating, wakes a lot at night, was a delayed walker and is still not out of nappies. She is very sensitive to certain sounds, to brightness, to being touched in certain ways (although likes cuddles) and to certain clothing and has been this way since being a baby. She has a meltdown on teeth brushing and hair washing. She is intelligent but very anxious. She finds it difficult making friends with her peers and can be easily overwhelmed. As a baby we used to just joke she hated everybody and was just highly strung but I keep finding myself hunting for answers online so I can give her the best support. Does this sound like it could be Spd related please?

  47. Lisa says:

    Hi my daughter is 13months old still on formula as she refuses most foods and the ones she does try she ends up choking also she makes a moaning noise quite a lot of the time she doesn’t hardly cry I’ve noticed that she isn’t responding to noises and doesn’t acknowledge people wen they are calling her name or noises around her we had some fireworks she delayed crying for about 5 minutes after the first firework I’m now starting to worry a little am I right to be worried??

    • Lisa, yes you should be concerned. Please have your daughter’s hearing checked first as she is not responding to noises and her name being called to rule out a hearing loss. You should also consult with an occupational therapist who specializes in feeding issues as there may be some difficulty coordinating tongue and jaw movements (called oral motor dyspraxia).

  48. Emma Hawkins says:

    My 4 year old Daughter has always been very sensitive crys over everything. She also dislikes alot of clothes due to textures or buttons she can not wear anything with buttons or anything with glitter if I try it results in tears so now I avoid these items of clothes. She’s very bright but I think don’t think this is a good thing as she over thinks everything she has nightmares at least 3 times a week and it’s usually on the nights that she’s had a busy day or watched something new. She constantly wants to be hugged but will not kiss she gets upset if you ask her for a kiss. The health visitor say last year that she soundsike she suffers from anxiety but nothing else was said. Food wise she’s terrible only eats a handful of good and has a sensitive gag reflux so will be sick the moment she puts something new in her mouth. She dies deal well with change. She very cautious, scared of doing everything physical just incase she gets hurt. Does this sound like SPD or mild autism.

    • Emma, she does have some signs that fit the autism profile. Be aware that children with autism usually have sensory issues as well. The constantly wanting to be hugged is the need for what is called deep pressure. A limited diet may also indicate sensory issues. Please consult with your doctor and ask for an more in-depth assessment. An occupational therapist can assist with the sensory issues and prescribe what is called a sensory diet to lessen some of these reactions your daughter is currently having.

  49. Lauren says:

    Sorry i forgot to add even brushing her hair is a nightmare she screams like im ripping her hair out. Also getting dressed is hard work she just wont stand still and trys to get away.

  50. Lauren says:

    My little girl is 27 months. She hates sudden loud sounds, struggles with speach says few or little words e.g mammy, daddy, dog, cat. Wakes around 4 /5 times a night. She wants to have no clothes on most the time. If she gets a tiny bit of wet on them off her drink she melts down and wants them off straight away. Shes none stop all the time. She covers her eyes and will hide behind me if we meet new people. i cant get her to even sit on the potty for longer than 5 seconds. Is this anything to be worried about?

    • Lauren, the speech delay is a red flag for possible problems and you are also describing some sensory issues. I would speak to your doctor about what you have told me and ask for a referral to a speech language pathologist (SLP). They are the ones that assess speech delays. She may just be a late talker, but it is better to address these issues right away rather than wait. Here are the developmental milestones for age 2 years –
      If your daughter is missing these milestones, you need to look into this.

  51. F Ward says:

    Thanks for this. 
    My LG is 6 years old. She can’t have her top button done, coats zipped up, or scarves and majority of the time when putting on normal tops she gags, and says she can’t breathe, it’s too close to her neck. When reality is they’re not as close as she thinks. 
    She used to have. A thing for clothing, clothing used to make her itch and she’d always be naked but that’s not happened in a while now.
    She is very clumsy, always falling over, bumping into things or knocking things over. 
    She has behavioural issues at home but can control it at school. As soon as she’s home in her safe space she explodes. 
    Academically, she is veeeeery behind! Cannot count 1-20, doesn’t know the alphabet. Cannot read three letter words amongst other things. 
    Does this sound like SPD?

    Thanks for taking time to read x 

    • The behavioral issues and academic struggles may indicate there is something more than just sensory issues here. I would highly recommend you see your family doctor with your concerns and ask to see a developmental pediatrician or ask to have a developmental assessment done. These problems will not go away on their own and require some professional intervention. What does her teacher say at school?

  52. RenaJ says:

    My son is 8 and can barely tie his shoes, very clumsy kid who has zero interest in sports. He has never played well with others. Often very bossy, many kids in our neighborhood no longer want to play with him. He dislikes scraping noises (loud or soft). He needs about 50 really hard hugs or else has a melt down. He’s constantly touching and hugging others almost like invading their space. Transitions are tough, whether it’s doing homework, dinner time, bed time. If he is in the middle of anything and has to stop, he melts down. We have to give him a 15 minute warning in order to prepare him for the change in activity. He was diagnosed with adhd at 5 years old, and only offered medication, no other support was offered. We declined meds because we weren’t convinced that his symptoms aligned completely with ADHD. We instead changed up his diet to remove certain foods that could possibly trigger his behavior. Some of it helped, and some we didn’t notice any changes. The characteristics outlined above are spot on and describe him totally. I believe that he may have been misdiagnosed and really has SPD, but don’t quite know where to begin with getting him help. How do we challenge a misdiagnosis? Will OT help an 8 year old? Is this something we can do at home? How do we find an OT with experience in sensory processing issues? 

    • I am not sure where you are writing from so it is hard to tell you how to find an OT in your area. Most countries have a governing body for OTs. In Canada, it’s the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. (CAOT) Each province then has its own chapter and lists all OTs and what their specialty is. If you don’t agree with his diagnosis of ADHD, you can seek another opinion. This can be done by getting a referral from your doctor to see a developmental pediatrician or a psychologist for further assessment. This could also be more than SPD. It’s hard for me to comment as I am not a doctor and have not observed your son. Has his teacher given you any feedback?

  53. Liz says:

    My 16 yr old child looked like she was having a panic disorder at the eye doctor when they were tying to puff air into her eyes. When the dentist clean her teeth, a couple of times she gags but throw up doesn’t come out. She also has told me that certain people’s voices annoy her like nails to a chalkboard. Does this sound like SPD? She doesn’t have trouble with clothes (except if it’s wool) and she doesn’t have food preferences.

  54. Patricia Smith says:

    My son is 4 years old, he has a sensitivity to some sound, I.e vacuum or the hand dryer in bathrooms – says they are too loud and puts his hands over his ears. This appears to be only particular noises though – he will quite happily have his tv programmes playing loudly. He has recently complained that his clothes are itchy, he still wears a pull up at night and has only recently begun complaining that it is too itchy. He hates wearing a coat despite the weather- prefers to wear a light zip up tracksuit top instead – hates wearing jumpers- even in winter will just want to wear a t shirt. Do you think this is a sensory issue or just normal pre school behaviour

    • Every person has sensory preferences. For example, I prefer to wear cotton fabrics over synthetic. I know someone who can’t tolerate wool. What can be different with SPD is the response to sensitivities. Here is another article that you can read on SPD to see if the profile fits- . You can also have an assessment done by an occupational therapist. Sensitivities can be addressed through a sensory diet. It is important to address these issues because, for example, your son may not feel cold but his body actually is cold. What you are describing could also be connected to interoceptive awareness.

  55. Joe says:

    I’m 17 male and for all I can remember from my whole life, I’ve always had issues with certain materials of clothes. I’m not sure how to describe the texture but I say it is “scratchy”. Also with food for my whole life, I am very very picky. I only eat foods of certain textures and colours, so the selection of food that I eat is very small. Pretty much just limited to pasta with chicken and steamed vegetables and similar foods. My parents say my food is too plain.
    I also have issues with the feel of most types of paper, which is frustrating at school because the tests and exams are on paper. I got a 2 in 1 laptop with a stylus at the beginning of this year so that I only need to touch paper only if I must e.g for test. For paper, just imagining touching paper, especially if my nail touches the paper, gives me goosebumps.

    I have always complained about lights being too bright, or outside on a sunny day being too bright, when others say it is fine. I use the lowest brightness setting on my laptop. I do not like high brightness at all. In some lighting conditions such as bright light outside which is coming through closed vertical blinds or venetian blinds, I get nauseous. It tends to happen when there is contrast between the brightness of the light coming from outside to the inside.

    I have also always had trouble with things like doing bandages (I’m a member of a first aid youth program and we do the big bandages) and tying shoelaces. I struggle to do them no matter how much practice I do.

    I am also sensitive to sound. If I’m watching something with my parents like a documentary, I always ask to turn down the volume. I feel very uncomfortable when the volume is high. I sometimes hear really faint sounds that others around me don’t hear.

    I have been told by many people that I walk in an awkward way. They say my posture isn’t normal and my arm movement isn’t natural, even though it feels normal to me.

    Could this be SPD?
    Thank you

  56. Cortney Ishmael says:

    My son is almost 5 and since the pandemic hit, I have decided to do homeschooling to avoid COVID but it seems he has trouble processing his school work on the tablet. He does amazing when it comes to a workbook but the testing and schoolwork on his tablet is a nightmare. After reading up on SPD I have found myself wondering if this is a sensory issue or the ADHD that he was originally diagnosed with. I have also looked at a checklist for Adults for SPD and found instead of my original diagnosis of ADD may not have been correct. Is SPD something that can be passed genetically?

    • Your son is too young to be working on a tablet. He needs kinesthetic learning meaning hands on with things. Children need to be using their senses to explore the world. They must interact with objects, not view them on a tablet. Start instructing the old fashioned way with real materials and he will respond better. A great curriculum for 5 year olds is Tasks Galore- He should be working on the pre-numeracy and pre-literacy skills as well and fine and gross motor activities.

      SPD can affect 30% of the general population but it is also present alongside other disorders and diagnoses such as ADD and autism.

  57. Feyi says:

    I didn’t learn to speak properly until I was EIGHT years old. I only realised why bright lights and high pitched sounds make me feel dizzy and hurt my ears at 24; it autism (SPD) life being constantly bombarded with these assaults is hell. How does many people cope? The worst is looking at patterns that make my whole body squirm and itch such as stretch marks on my body and cracks.

    • People cope by using a variety of tools to help calm their senses. My daughter is very auditory defensive so she wears noise cancelling headphones, even to sleep as any noises from the street keep her awake. Bright lights can be lessened by wearing sunglasses. In our house, we only use lamps with 60 watt light bulbs or less – no harsh lighting.

  58. Becky says:

    Hi my daughter is 15 months old and since moving to a new house I noticed she started to slowly dislike bath time at first it was only a small change in her behaviour but we have been in the new house for about 5 months now and she has gotten to the point where she is scared to sit down on her bum in the bath she’s very on edge and nervous because she’s become so affraid of her hair being washed that when I do have to wash her hair and believe me it’s that bad that I leave it as long as I can she is shaking from fear not because she’s cold she is shaking from fear it’s horrible having to be the one washing her hair causing that type of fear in her. I get her out straight after and wrap her in a towel and she’s fine pretty much right away but it has gotten to the point were I dread having to wash her hair and put her through it. Iv tried being in the bath with her iv even tried to demonstrate to her that it’s nothing to be afraid of by getting her 9 year old sister in the bath while she watches from her high chair as I calmly wash her older sisters hair while her sister stays cool calm and relaxed but it’s not working it’s getting worse.
    She is afraid of noises sirens are a big one that scare her, motor bikes or loud cars other babies crying the toilet flushing. She also can clench her teeth and fists randomly during the day and sort of shake like she’s over excited and she does make random noises through out the day, she’s also quick to extreme crying and yelling while waiting for dinner or if she drops her dummie in the car she at times for no reason breaths rapidly as if she’s having a panic attack she tends to panic if her sister, myself or her nan leave her eye sight, this is mainly while food shopping if myself or her sister leave her line of site right away she will panic and repeat sissy or mummy rapidly and panicy, not long ago my mum came along with us and the panic was 10 times worse but only focused on my mum leaving her sight i jus dont undertand why. She’s a happy little girl and very curious and interactive with others maybe a little too much at times as she tries to kiss everyone and everything, and she has recently started calling every male we see threw out the day dadda random strangers constantly.
    I don’t know what has caused this behaviour change since the move so i was wondering wether PSD is a genetic disorder or can some sort of traumatic event cause it to accure as she has witnessed some domestic violence in the past this was Christmas 2019 when she witnessed the domestic violence but these behaviour changes didn’t start till months later.

  59. NRD says:

    Hi, my son is 1year4months old. His motor development is unremarkable. But his speech i feel slightly delayed. Cn say like 4words. Occassionally cn point things. Mostly making babbling sounds. Good eye contact. Loves to play wt ppl. Recently i brought him to an OT, and she diagnosed him with sensory problem. I hv enrolled him in classes. Just hvg constant worry bout his speech and can it become autism later on?? He doesnt hv other features of autism. He will mk loud noises during babbling.

    • Your son is quite young to be diagnosed with autism at this point. Sensory processing disorder can exist on its own without an autism diagnosis. Some troubling behaviors can be connected to sensory issues. There are many things you can do to increase communication and engagement. Keep talking to your son, read to him, sing to him, play with him and interact using simple games like peek-a-boo, blowing bubbles, water play etc. The OT should have prescribed a sensory diet based on your son’s sensory needs. The sensory systems do mature and regulate as a child ages. Don’t worry too much at this stage. It sounds like you are doing all the right things!

  60. Kay Russo says:

    My 3 year old’s teacher just called and was telling us that he has started to push against things when energy in the classroom is high. He might push against an object or a person. She has started to redirect him to a wall to push so that he doesn’t upset his classmates if he should push against them. She says he also will flail his body around and get louder in response to the stimulus sometimes. He’s easily distracted during transition times and she’s wondering if he has a sensory sensitivity. She found him in the cubby room at school this week and asked him what he was doing sitting quietly by himself and he said, ” I need a break”.

    I used to take him to story time when he was 1-2 at the library and he’d often walk in circles around the room, trying to open up cabinets, climb on tables, etc while the other kids listened so I’m wondering if that is related. He’s otherwise a totally normal kid that likes to interact with other kids, developmentally on track with an advanced vocabulary and often will concentrate on a task for 25-30 minutes if he’s interested in it. I’m wondering if he could have a sensory processing disorder if everything else seems basically on track.

    She’s going to order some noise reducing headphones to try on him to see what happens.

    • Your son may have some sensory issues. What you are describing in the first paragraph are proprioception issues- . Noise reduction headphones will help if your son is auditory defensive. Keep an eye on his development, though. Sometimes sensory issues are also present with other disorders such as ADHD or autism. Sensory systems do mature as a child ages and some sensitivities will reduce or not be an issues anymore. He seems to be getting overwhelmed by stimuli and may benefit from an OT assessment, then a sensory diet can be created.

  61. Jamie says:

    Our son just turned 2 and has been seeing PT, OT, speech and feeding therapists for over a year. We’ve been told that he’s “behind” developmentally, but he excels in other areas. He seems very intelligent, but struggles in certain areas. He babbles constantly and will say some individual words, but has difficulty putting them together or expressing what he needs, wants, etc. Seems bothered by noises often, such as the vacuum, blender, or his 3 month old sister crying. Has meltdowns with these, and most recently he’s starting yelling at his sister when she cries. Gets very upset with certain things on his hands like grass, but plays in water or dirt perfectly fine. Our biggest issue is with eating. He will only eat crunchy foods like crackers, pretzels, goldfish. He will sometimes eat a bagel or granola bar. He did have an oral laser procedure done at 9 months, but we thought that this issue would’ve improved by now. At his 2 year visit, the pediatrician had briefly mentioned a possibility of high functioning autism or PDD. As he is getting older, the communication and eating issues are becoming extremely difficult, as my husband and I struggle to understand his wants and needs. I’m not sure honestly if he is just behind, or if there could be more going on. Any guidance would be much appreciated.

  62. Sam says:

    I am trying to find out the underline of my 7yr olds behaviour. It feels like she is brushed aside and all I get told is she is normal for her age. It’s a struggle to get on busy public transport…and regularly has meltdowns due to all sorts, examples of this….putting on a coat damp from rain, rain touching her, smells, tastes, noises (although she has been confirmed to have hearing sensitivity since 3yrs)  she panics at the sound of toilet flushes and hand dryers, if her hair messes up or doesn’t feel right… Clothing ( many clothes I’ve bought unable to return due to hearing stitching pop while meltdown is happening) …the list is endless. Any more advice we are desperate. School say she is fine but we beg to differ strongly. Big family gatherings are something we don’t do often due to her discomfort. Meltdowns are more frequent at the moment due to pandemic. It has been a big transition for her. 

    • Your child is showing signs of sensory processing disorder. An occupational therapist can assist in diagnosing this and also prescribe what we call a sensory diet. Her sensory system is not regulating properly which can make the things you are describing extremely uncomfortable for her and overwhelming hence the meltdowns.

  63. JoJo says:

    Hello there, I have a 3.5 year old who frequently clenches teeth in the day and makes loud noises. Sometimes high pitched, sometimes grunting. He seems to need to relieve something. Often it’s connected to his bunny which he adores and will rub his face on it while shaking his head and making the noises. He has always been scared of hand dryers and covers his ears when his little sister cries. He also seems to just constantly make noise. Whether that’s repeating phrases or asking questions over and over or as above. He is a bright and cheerful chap, has Friends and enjoys lots of things. I just worry that he is missing something (sensory wise…)
    He also hummmmms when eating… constantly.
    Any advice would be gratefully received.
    He has a wobble cushion for the dinner table, we use theraputty to play with and have a balance board…)

  64. Kathy says:

    My son is 4 and bumps, bops and jumps on people a lot. He doesn’t get mad and hit or push, but he plays too rough. I worry it will affect his relationships. He is a typical kid otherwise. No language delays. Infact he seems pretty advanced with his verbal skills and can read a little. Could he have sensory issues?

  65. Leanne says:

    Hello my daughter has just turned 4, she dislikes noise hand dryers, hair dryers, crying babies/ children, She’s also a very picky eater will only eat certain foods, 
    Drink from certain cups, also dislikes tags on clothes won’t wear certain clothes as she states they itchy, dislikes bright lights, dressing times are a night mare we have melt downs to Dress/undress,  also dislikes bathing/ hair washing, and will suck on wet face clothes/towels, any advice on what todo would be helpful thanks 

  66. Violet says:

    My 9year old son is slow in speech. Can do other normal things that kids do but don’t play for long with other kids xpt his siblings. Cries a lot. Choosy with food and clothing. Barks like a dog when he is angry, likes to draw but can’t.

  67. Kathi Grant Bergeron says:

    My 3 year old does not like the tags on clothes or to wear certain types of clothing. She says they hurt. She also doesn’t like to wear underwear…at times, when in the car, she can’t stand the radio being on or her baby sister crying…otherwise, she is excelling in intellectual, cognitive, language and gross and fine motor skills.

  68. Shalena Garza says:

    This article is great. This describes my son perfectly. This condition is extremely difficult for parents to manage. The lack of understanding and community awareness is beyond frustrating. Since this one study declared it separate from autism, there are less services available for parents and children who struggle with this. Many of the manifestations can be blamed on bad parenting as well and people dont understand sensory processing disorder. People are at least familiar with autism. I am dissapointed with the study that separates it from autism. I think it manifests on a spectrum. If we can call asperger’s a form of autism, we should be able to call sensory processing a form of autism. One study is not enough to exclude this disorder from the diagnosis of autism! Especially since we are still in the midst of many breakthrough discoveries in brain research regarding autism and neurological processing. Autism has a speech heterogenic presentation. I think the only disservice here is excluding the diagnosis from the autism spectrum.

  69. Dee Dee says:

    My 2 year old will be 3 next month. He currently see a SI once a week for speech. He talks at home but in daycare he does not speak much. He does not have full conversations but he does respond with yes or no or a few words at a time. He can read words, he know’s his colors, shapes, and counts to 100. He’s very smart he just does not communicate a lot with people outside the home. I also have a 8 year old and he was very advance as a toddler and I try not to compare my children. Recently my 2 year old has been pinching at school. I managed to stop him from doing it at home but he does it continuously at daycare. His SI observed him at daycare and she says he does not do it to cause pain he is curious. She gave me a sensory diet list to help him stop his urge to pinch. I don’t not feel like my child has autism he has not been diagnosed with autism there is no other concerns that I have with him. He does not have any other issues as far as certain clothing or anything I read in the comments. The reason I’m leaving this comment is can SPD stand alone ? I mean without the diagnosis of autsim?

  70. Chan says:

    My 3 year old for last 18months has become very difficult, sensitive to sound/ loud noises. Clothes make him itchy. Will not wear underpants.he wears the same pants everyday! He has trouble expressing him self he just screams uncontroably or he will or says naughty words even though he doesn’t know the meaning of what his saying. He will be naughty and can tell us its naughty but he will still continue todo it.
    I’m at a loss we are waiting for pediatrician appointment.

  71. cheryl says:

    My son has autism is 9 year old and still drinking formula from the bottle and diapers. He will not eat soft or hard food. He is mod to severe Autism high functioning

    • You may need to work with a multidisciplinary team that consists of an SLP who can address oral motor concerns, an OT who can work with sensory needs and a dietitian. Toilet training is another topic. Who has suggested that your son remain on formula this length of time?

  72. susan Fitzpatrick says:

    My daughter who’s now 11 has been struggling with what appears to be SPD since she was 5. It really negatively impacts her life on a day to day basis. We can sort out her clothing the night before but that’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to wear them in the morning. At its worst she has one pair of socks/leggings and t shirt that she’s restricted to. She just wants to be “Normal”. Really don’t know how to support her and try and move forward with this issue. GP not particularly helpful. Any suggestions ?

    • Susan, I would seek the advice of an occupational therapist who has a background in sensory needs. An OT can create what is called a sensory diet which can lessen aversions or provide alternatives to aversions. Sensory is a complex subject and needs to be supervised by someone with specific training in this area.

  73. Elizabeth Taylor says:

    Concern mom. We have 2 year old. Limited communicating with speech. Eye contact is very good.has good understanding. Currently concern as she doesn’t interact with her peers.she will aviod interaction with peers. We have being to gp to voice our concern. Refused via paediatric stating to young. Her behaviour is awful get very distress change of routine or something different. We have contact speech therapy . Refuse to feed her self with cultery with become very distress over it. Resiliant to change doesnt matter how small.any advice would be great.

    • You need to ask your GP for a referral to a developmental specialist. My GP fought me on this too but I insisted. Both of mine were diagnosed autistic. Two years old is not too young to be diagnosed. I would also suggest that you look at a developmental chart for a 2 year old and see where your daughter is falling behind. Bring up those concerns and insist on seeing someone more qualified than your GP is. Many do not have the experience to diagnose autism and related disorders.

  74. mark wright says:

    my son is 10 yr old and as been diagnosed with autism since he was 7 he as recently been saying he as ringing and banging noises in his ears which is becoming very painful for him with him being autistic is there any tests that he could have we have been to the doctors to see if he as glue ear but is ears are clear and ok

  75. Sarah Cleland says:

    I need help it seems like my son keeps getting misdiagnosed by the specialist and I cant get answers ..he doesnt speak and almost 3 and there is alot of other concerns can someone get ahold of me for advice

    • Sarah, you need to ask your doctor to be referred to a developmental pediatrician. They specialize in diagnosing disorders like autism. Most GP’s don’t know how to do this. My children were not diagnosed by their family doctor but by specialists in the area of child development. I am not sure where you live, but you could contact your local Physician’s Association to see who is available in your area. You could also contact your local Autism Society as they often know who does this work.

  76. Katie says:

    Hi there i have been struggling with my son since he was 18 months old. He has been asseced for asd and was one mark below the cut off point at 3 and a half he is now 5 and started crying at school . The school snco thinks it may well be spd but on there other hand rhe school nurse thinks that it could be asd. My son only shows a cretain amount at school and holds most of it in untill he gets home. I deal with screaming crying and name calling and aggression towards my self and his to sister when he has had a bad day. What things could i do to help him while waiting for him to see the peadatrtion. His dite is really poor and he dose not like change . He sometime put his clothes on back to front and prefers to wear sorts not matter what the weather is like.

  77. Concerned mum. says:

    How can I locate somewhere to get a sensory assessment for my 13yr daughter ? Camhs have said she needs one and the school are saying there’s a 2 yr waiting list. She definitely has sensory issues, she also has a diagnosis of asd. She is really struggling at school and only attends mainstream school part time at the moment. 

  78. Elize says:

    My son is 3and a half. as a baby he loved to sleep but at about 6months he was horrible he would cry and cry for hours and i could not touch him or hold him. but it has passed. now for the last 2months he is over sensitive about most things he cries most of the day at home. there are sertain clothing he will not put on, if we get 3 hours of sleep a night thats alot. there are sertain foods he will not eat (like fries and meat) he complaines alot that he is cold even if it is summer here now. please help? i dont have the money now to take him to a doctor and i really need help to know if there is a possibility that he might have SPD?

  79. Rebecca says:

    Hi Maureen. Stumbled across this today and I’m glad I did. I have a little boy who is 2.8. Over the last year we have worried about his communication. That lead to hearing tests that he failed.. Skip to 7 weeks ago he had grommet surgery. And last week passed the hearing test! He is still very far away from speech. We are seeing a speech therapist but I do feel like the issue is deeper. I have seen health visitors and GP about autisum subject both disagreed with me. Hubby also disagrees and thinks he will pick up in time. 3 weeks ago I put him in nursery to see if that could help. I know it’s early days but I am so so beyond desperate for a better life for my boy.

    He doesn’t always turn to name but has massively improved since his op
    Eye contact was nothing but again getting better since op.
    Has a dairy intolerance (is this leaky gut)
    Likes to line up his cars
    Is not majorly into throughing tantrums.
    Given he hates to be told no.. Normally takes it so personal.
    Alot of playing on the floor while lying down?
    Takes massive comfort in playing on a phone or ipad, likes to watch YouTube kids.
    Is funny with food, crying over new foods or won’t try them.
    He is very very loving.. Always giving cuddles! Even nursery have mentioned how loving he is.
    He is the 2nd child.. In the middle of a 4yo and 9mo.
    Doesn’t grasp if he might hurt someone.
    His play is fairly ‘aggressive’ without meaning

    Could you point me in the right direction?? I’m clutching at straws trying to find something but ending up with nothing but a frustrating tired head

    Thankyou x

  80. Lana says:

    My daughter is 14. She gets overwhelmed by certain noises and the material of clothes. But this has never happened when she was younger, it only started a couple of years ago.
    Is this SPD? Any tips on helping her?

  81. Abi says:

    I have SPD and I cannot control it as well as I could. Help?

    • Abi, have a look at my reply to Kate as I sent her some links on creating a sensory diet. You would have to give me more specifics about what is bothering you in order for me to help. I am not sure what you are struggling with as every person who has SPD experiences it differently.

  82. Kate says:

    My daughter is 3. She was born premature at 30 weeks gestation.
    She is doing absolutely fine and it’s a lovely little person. However we have moments in the day when she throws herself onto the floor and cries and rolls. Dressing up in the morning is a nightmare. We normally go through 3 pairs of panties before she feels OK. Same for tops and leggings. It really is the toughest moment of the day.
    Her communication is a bit delayed but it could be to do with the fact that she is brought up multilingual.
    She absolutely hates any drop of water on her clothes. She panics when she spills it and takes everything off.
    She loves being barefoot and ideally naked all day…
    Do I need to see someone with her? We are in the UK. Thank you.

  83. joana says:

    my daughter has a melt down when she hears the sound of a baby crying, what can i do to help her? i just recently gave birth to a baby boy and shes having a very hard time…

  84. Hana says:

    Dear LT ~ if possible could you tell me where in Scotland you succeeded in a stand alone SPD diagnoses ? I’m an adult with SPD symptoms ~ yet it seems SPD comes under the umbrella of Autism or ADD where I live.

  85. Sara Wise says:

    My son is so scared of the wind, the beach (and the hush sound of the waves), the hairdryer and these sorts of sounds. Is there anything specific that he could be tested for as I really would like him to overcome these difficulties and hoping there is a solution. Thank you!

    • Sometimes just wearing a hat can calm down the wind sound. My daughter wears noise cancelling headphones a great deal of the time, even when she sleeps as she is bothered by traffic noise. Sometimes these sensitivities improve with age as more calming and coping skills are developed. If a person is auditory sensitive, this usually stays with them for life. You just have to find ways to make sounds bearable for the individual. My daughter to listens to music with ear buds on her iPad when we are in restaurants as she can’t take the music and people talking all at the same time. If we didn’t allow her to use this tool, we could never eat out.

    • Hayley says:

      My son used to be the same with wind, and the beach. We would wear a hat everywhere, a wollen one pulled over his ears a bit (and scream when he would see the beach). Now he is almost 5 he doesnt wear a hat anywhere (although is visibly challenged if outside in the wind. He can now verbalise when he is getting overwhelmed by sight and sensation so helps) and he now loves going to the beach. Hes even been swimming in the beach. This took many years to achieve. Its frustrating but he remains a sensitive boy. But its no longer so many quirks. 

  86. Liz Bentley says:

    I have been my granddaughter’s legal guardian for five years,she has experienced trauma before coming to live with my husband and I, she was subject to drug misuse by her mother and her foundation blocks for life where never nurtured. I have very great worries that she is dealing with SPD, she can’t bear being dressed, she screams and when we have managed to overcome that she screams about how her hair is brushed into a ponytail, she attacks me with great menace and says its all my fault, we can’t mention anything to do with being late and any kind of hurrying makes her go slower, she screams for large durations of time when her frustrations are high and I have to say she is pretty scary.  She is currently being given play therapy, but I think there is more that should be happening to satisfy her great sense of unease, I am trying my best, but I fear if she attacks me when she is older it could be regrettably the last straw  and we would have to give up our commitment to her. 

    • Trauma is a very hard thing to undo. Your granddaughter needs a predictable, loving and safe environment. I really like the Low Arousal Approach for aggressive behavior. It is person-centered, ethical and teaches us as caregivers how to give the right support in order to keep arousal levels low. Have a look at the website .

  87. Nico says:

    Sometimes the feeling of  “dusty” rocks can make me feel discomfort. I don’t deal well with the sound of metal on a metal bowl. Sometimes certain positions of my body and hands can feel weird or discomforting. Do I have this condition or are these normal responses and feelings. I am sorry for bothering you, I know you must be very busy.

    • Everyone has things they are sensitive to. For example, I can’t tolerate the sound of someone clipping their nails. It is the degree to which these sensitivities affect your ability to function. My daughter is so auditory sensitive, she can’t eat in a restaurant without noise cancelling headphones on. It’s about the degree and intensity of the sensitivities.

  88. Ying Zhang says:

    I come from China,my son is diagnosed as SPD. recently I learned about the fact that autism has something to do with leaky gut,and I wonder how about SPD. Is it good for me to give my son some probiotics and what kind of probiotics do you recommend? Thank you very much

    • Ying, I don’t know much about probiotics so I can’t advise you with confidence. SPD can certainly be part of autism as can leaky gut. Does your son have an autism diagnosis? Is he having digestive problems?

    • Diane says:

      Hi Ying, there has been much study with probiotic and autism at The University of Reading and other Unis.  I think it definitely helps and give my daughter Biokult kids and Yakult.  She has done very well on Yakult.  If you want to chat I am on  Good luck

  89. Margaret Varney says:

    My 4yr grandson has some characteristics which differs from his sister and cousins, he hates just even a spot of water on his clothes(mum has to change him soon as) his communication is a bit slower than his sister when she was his age, he has recently been punching himself  in the face for no apparent reason, he won’t interact in speech with strangers , it’s is near hand impossible for him to have his haircut also, do you or anyone think he should be checked by a paediatrician?

  90. Catherine says:

    This is a very misleading subject and very confusing for both clinicians and parents alike. I think it is a bit of a dis-service to call sensory differences a ‘sensory processing disorder’ as this has not yet been recognized as a diagnosable condition.

    • LT says:

      In some areas of the UK it is recognised we are in Scotland and my son has a “significant sensory processing disorder” diagnosis 

    • Jessica says:

      I am intrested to know where else SPD is diagnosed as a stand alone diagnosis please? I am in the USA and am having a horrible time finding proper education for my child who definitely has SPD not autistic and not ADHD it has been a trying and frustrating search for help.

    • SPD can stand alone but it is not recognized as an official diagnosis in the DSM which is the manual used by professionals for diagnosis. Have a look at the Star Institute’s website as they are doing some of the best work around SPD.

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