Sensory Processing Delays

What Are Sensory Processing Delays?

child being treated by Lisa KooSensory Processing Delays formerly named “sensory integration dysfunction” is the hindering of ability of the brain to register senses and respond (physically and cognitively) in appropriate manners, or at all. These sensory processing delays can affect almost all aspects of a child’s life. From riding a bike to writing down a sentence to playing sports, sensory processing is a vital part of all activities and actions.
A study (Ahn, Miller, Millberger, Mcintosh, 2004) found that 1 out of every 20 children experience symptoms associated with sensory processing delays. Another study (BenSasson, Carter, BriggsGowen, 2009) found suggestions that 1 in every 6 of these children have symptoms that affect their every day life.

Why Do Sensory Processing Delays Occur?

During sensory processing delays, the neurological messages of the senses are not perceived appropriately by the brain. Educational psychologist A. Jean Ayres, PhD described sensory processing disorders as a “traffic jam” of the neurological system when any sensory actions are occurring. These neurological traffic jams make it difficult or impossible for a child to correctly sense and respond to senses.

What Are Signs of Sensory Processing Delays?

Symptoms can be found in many different aspects of a child’s life. Some can be very sever or not and some can occur in many different forms or just one specific one. For instance, a child may have extremely delicate senses that can cause overstimulation and pain or anxiety. Oppositely, a child can have very dull senses that could cause problems in other ways. For instance, a child may not realize he/she is burning his/her hand on an extremely hot plate due to a lack of stimulation.
Additionally, some children have sensory processing delays that cause problems with communication within their body. For instance, some children has postural problems. Certain nerves don’t send correct messages to correct parts of a child’s body that tell them how to stand correctly and perform physical activity. They may be seen as “floppy” or clumsy. Some kids with too much sensory ability crave sensations to the point where it is an overstimulation of their bodies. Often, the kids are wrongly diagnosed with ADHD as opposed to having sensory processing delays.

Treatment for Sensory Processing Delays

Physical therapists can aid children with sensory processing disorders. Repeated physical therapy and occupational therapy can help a child adapt to his/her environment and grow appropriately as a child.

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