COVID-19 Information: Vaccine | Testing | Self-assessment | Patient & Visitor Safety | Visitor Policy
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Living Well > Health Library > Sensory Processing Disorder
Children with sensory processing disorder have problems processing information from the senses. This makes it hard for them to respond to that information in the right way. The senses include touch, movement, smell, taste, vision, and hearing. In most cases, these children have one or more senses that either react too much or too little to stimulation. This disorder can cause problems with a child's development and behavior.
Children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities often have sensory processing disorder. But this disorder can also be associated with other conditions. These may include premature birth, brain injury, and learning disorders.
The exact cause of sensory processing disorder isn't known. It is most often seen in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Most research suggests that people with ASD have irregular brain function. More study is needed to find the cause of these irregularities. But current research shows they may be inherited.
Children with sensory processing disorder cannot properly process sensory stimulation from the outside world. Your child may:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children who show signs of a sensory problem be checked for other conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder or an anxiety disorder. A doctor who has special training to care for children with development and behavior concerns or a mental health professional can check for these conditions. Your child may also see an occupational therapist (OT). The OT will observe how your child stands and balances, his or her coordination, eye movements, and how your child responds to stimulation.
Sensory integration therapy, usually conducted by an occupational or physical therapist, is often recommended for children who have sensory processing disorder. It focuses on activities that challenge the child with sensory input. The therapist then helps the child respond appropriately to this sensory stimulus.
Therapy might include applying deep touch pressure to a child's skin with the goal of allowing him or her to become more used to and process being touched. Also, play such as tug-of-war or with heavy objects, such as a medicine ball, can help increase a child's awareness of her or his own body in space and how it relates to other people.
Although it has not been widely studied, many therapists have found that sensory integration therapy improves problem behaviors.
Current as of:
February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineLouis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Current as of: February 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.