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How Sensory Processing Disorder Affects Your Child

Welcome to day 2 of our 5 days of Sensory Processing Disorder series!!

Yesterday I explained what Sensory Processing Disorder is. Today, because Sensory Processing Disorder can effect your child in so many different ways, I thought I would put together a post on how it affects each of the different systems and share also some of the symptoms.

There are 7 different senses, with each of these senses a SPD kiddo can have an over-responsively or under-responsively so for example one child will only eat a very limited number of foods because of the taste and texture (Cody) and another child will eat anything they can get their hands on which includes non food items (Ethan).

Children with SPD can seen like they have no problems for a day or 2 and then next thing you know all your problems are back and you have a horrible day with lots of sensory issues and symptoms.

Here are some of the problems that can be seen in each of the different senses of children with sensory processing disorder.



Proprioceptive Dysfunction ~

This sense is one that our bodies rely on regularly throughout the day, but one that most people don’t know about it. It is the subconscious awareness of where you are in space and is required in everything that involves eye-hand coordination. It is the sense that we use when we jump rope, ride our bikes, dance, walk, walk in the complete dark without loosing your balance, and more.

This was one of the most concerning signs for us when it came to Ethan. He did not understand his force and would end up hurting other people frequently, it got to the point that his brother who is 4 years older then him was scared to death of him hurting him. I was lost as a parent because I didn’t want any of my children to get hurt, but couldn’t find a way to get him to understand why he couldn’t put so much force into touching others. Cody on the other hand is VERY clumsy and will fall frequently, at first I thought this was a trait picked up from my family, but as time went on I realized it was because of propiocetptive dysfunction.

Under Responsive Proprioceptive ~  Sensory Seeking ~ I have 2 major sensory seekers, they are on the go from sun up to sun down. They have little fear ofd things they should definitely fear, and always keep their parents on their toes 😉

  • Loves tight clothing and bear hugs
  • Kicks feet on the floor or a chair while sitting at a desk or table
  • Likes to excessively banging with or on toys
  • Cracks knuckles
  • Chews or sucks on fingers
  • Make noises constantly while walking around (Dustin 14 will mow the yard making a sound like a car driving at least half the time he mows the lawn) This can be very annoying to older sisters 😉

Proprioceptive ~ Poor motor planning, body awareness, or motor control ~

  • Being clumsy
  • Falling frequently
  • Skipping or minimally crawling as a baby (which both Cody and Ethan did)
  • Struggle being gentle when petting or holding animals
  • Experiences anxiety when moving through space, or up and down stairs (being scared of swinging, or scared of being carried up and down stairs)
  • Sits in awkward positions (like upside down on the couch)
  • Written work is very messy


Vestibular ~

The structures within the inner ear which detect movement and head movement position. It helps us balance, and realize where we are in space as well as keeping us up upright.

Vestibular hypersensitivity ~ Children who are are scared of normal situations like swinging, slides, uneven surfaces, etc… They struggle with climbing or descending stairs, this is called a gravitational insecurity. These insecurities will cause them to avoid situations which they will get vestibular input.

  • Problems maintaining balance when standing so they tend to lean on a wall or furniture while standing
  • Struggle to catch or protect themselves when falling
  • Very clumsy and often bumps into or knocks things over (like a bull in a china shop)
  • Struggles to cross the ‘midline’ ~ moving an arm or leg across the center of their body
  • Loost, floppy, and fidgety
  • Often struggle with fine and gross motor skills
  • Have poor balance while riding bikes, going up/down stairs, or riding a bike
  • Stays away from swings, ladders, slides, or merry go rounds because of the movement
  • Physically cling to an adult that they trust
  • Fear of their feet leaving the ground

Vestibular hyposensitivity ~ On the other end children have a hyposensitivity and may seek intense sensory inputs like jumping, hopping, intense amusement park rides, spinning, whirling, etc.. Their systems can not process the strong input that normal people would and so they will do anything to help constantly stimulate their vestibular system.

  • Will swing for hours
  • Spinning for long periods of time and not appear like they are dizzy
  • Loves amusement park rides that are fast, intense, or scary
  • Constantly moving
  • Likes quick or sudden movements like going over a big bump in a car/bike
  • Rocks body
  • Can be a thrill seeker
  • Instead of walking they jump, run, or hop
  • Loves to jump on furniture
  • Loves being upside down


Tactile ~

The tactile system is the system that processes everything we touch everyday. I have some kiddos who hate for their hands, face, or any part of their bodies to get wet or dirty. I have others that would seek out the messiest possible activities and get into them, like the 50lb bag of flour disaster Ethan created in a very short time…. Yes there was flour in every single possible nook and cranny 😉

flour mess2











Tactile Defensiveness ~ Children who struggle with tactile defensiveness feel normal everyday touches so much more intensively that when they get water poured over their head in the bathtub it can feel like nails being put into their head. These children struggle with simple things like clothes being so scratchy they can’t wear them, people bumping into them feels like someone punching them, unable to use messy items because of the feel or the fact it will get you dirty.

  • Become aggressive, fearful, or anxious from light or an unexpected touch
  • Complains about having hair brushed
  • Over react to bug bites, small scrapes or bruises
  • The shower, rain, or wind blowing can feel like the worst torture you can imagine
  • Refuses to wear socks because of the seams in them
  • Gets very upset when you try to cut their fingernails, toenails, or hair
  • Will only eat certain tastes or textures
  • Does not like to use hands to touch things
  • Does not like to get dirty hands and will have to wash them right away
  • Has problems with clothes they can want to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants all year round, take their clothes off regularly, or clothes rubbing on their skin may really irritate them
  • As an infant they may not like to be held or cuddled and may scream and arch back
  • Will not walk barefoot

Tactile Hyposensitivity ~ When a child struggles with tactile hyposensitivity they are usually more aggressive and rough then most children. They don’t realize when they hurt other people and animals. When they are hurt it doesn’t even phase them. They need to touch everything, and get messy without even noticing it. They seek out tactile activities to help process what these sensations feel like.

  • Walk on toes
  • May be a bad dresser and not even notice when their clothes are twisted, or their hair is messed up
  • Craves and will seek out sensory play
  • May self abuse themselves by banging their head on wall, pinching, or biting themselves
  • Mouths objects frequently (past the age of 2)
  • Is not bothered or even phased when they get injured or gets shots
  • Not aware of dirty face or hands or running nose


Oral ~

Hypersensitivity to oral stimulation ~ When a child struggles with hypersensitivity to oral stimulation are your kids that are beyond Picky Eaters. Their food needs to be at a specific temperature, a certain texture, and taste. They have enhanced senses to flavors or temperatures and become to much for the child to process.

  • Problems with digesting food, will usually experience constipation/ or leaky gut
  • Cannot stand spicy, sour, or salty foods
  • Problems brushing teeth
  • Problems with swallowing, chewing, or sucking
  • Gag with textured food

Hyposensitivity to oral input ~ When children suffer with hyposensitivity to oral input they chew on toys, fingers, and other non food items usually drooling while chewing. They will cover their food in condiments to the point you cant even see the food anymore 😉

  • Cannot keep things out of their mouth
  • difficulties passing stool or urinating (Ethan didn’t potty train until he was 5, and was about just a month ago he started having BM’s on the potty)
  • Drool frequently and have problems keeping things in their mouth
  • Very poor eating habits like not closing mouth to chew and not fully chewing food
  • Eating non food items
  • Craves spicy, sour, or salty foods
  • Never gets enough condiments
  • Often are very messy eaters, getting food all over them while eating


Olfactory ~ Smells

Hypersensitivity to smells ~ The child who struggles with hypersensitivity to smells struggles with different smells, to the point they will do everything they can to avoid the smells. They notice smells that no one else notices.

  • Will refuse to eat certain foods just because of their smell
  • Refuse to go to or play at someones house because of the smell
  • Bothered by cooking smells in the house
  • Cannot stand strong odors
  • Cannot stand the smell of other peoples perfume, cologne, certain foods, bathroom smells, etc..

Hyposensitivity to smells ~ When a child struggles with a hyposensitivity to smells they struggle differentiating smells,  because they cannot tell good and bad smells they will sometimes eat things that are poisonous or rotten.

  • Fails to notice strong odors
  • Will eat things that taste horrible most people would not normally eat, including poisonous items
  • Has a difficult time identifying unpleasant odors
  • Cannot smell scratch & sniff stickers


Visual ~

Visual Hypersensitivity ~ These children will overact to visual stimulation. They struggle concentrating on something especially when watching TV or on a computer. Light can be so painful they cannot go outside without sunglasses and if they do they can get a migraine.

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Cannot be in very brightly colored rooms
  • Difficulty keeping eyes focused
  • Loves to play in the dark
  • Bright lights will bother them to the point they will squint or cover their eyes, cry, and sometimes get a headache

Visual Hyposensitivity ~ These children will struggle telling the difference between different shapes, letters, etc… They loose their spots in books, and on the blackboard as well as struggle to track things with their eyes.

  • Poor depth perception
  • Problems hitting a baseball
  • Difficulties on getting their eyes to work together and focusing
  • Confuses left and right
  • Writes on a slant
  • Have problems differentiating between different shapes, letters, and sizes
  • Struggles to put puzzles together
  • Loose place of copy work written on the blackboard or in a book
  • Makes reversals of words, letters, and shapes
  • Difficulty making letters the same size and with spacing


Auditory ~

Auditory Hypersensitivity ~ These children will not be able to be around loud noises without having problems they will often cover their ears to block out any noises they cannot tolerate. The sound of a flushing toilet can make a child completely avoid going into bathrooms because the sound of a flushing toilet can be horrible. These parents must avoid any situations that there will be a crowd of people because the children need to have frequent breaks or the sound will make them have breakdowns.

  • Difficulties remembering what was said during a conversation
  • Loves loud tv or music
  • Does not respond when called or verbal cues
  • Need to repeat directions frequently
  • Loves to make noise just because

Auditory Hyposensitivity ~ These children will often make lots of noise and seek out activities that make loud noises. They often need instructions repeated to them over and over because they do not hear you. Parents and teachers will often label these children as misbehaving because they assume the child is choosing not to listen to them.

  • Distracted by noises others don’t normally notice
  • Loves to make noise
  • Little or no babbling as an infant
  • Covers ears, runs away, or scared from unexpected sounds
  • Will often ask people to be quiet and stop singing, taking, or making noises
  • May not like someone just because of the sound of their voice

This is not an all exclusive list of symptoms you can search the internet and find others, or do what we did and pick up your own copy of The Out Of Sync Child which includes an extensive checklist of symptoms.


I shared an in depth post about each of my 3 boys who suffer with Sensory Processing Disorder stop over and check those out to see how this disorder effects Dustin, Cody, and Ethan’s all differently.

Stop back tomorrow for day 3 of our 5 Days Of Sensory Processing Disorder Series when I will talk about a sensory diet and the products we LOVE.

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Thank you for sharing!!


  1. Love this article and website – fabulous that we are starting to understand this so much more. Both my girls have this, and the first sign was problems with clothing – everything “hurt”, was “too tight”, “scratches me”, etc. The right clothing can change these special kids’ lives and has changed my girls’ lives and MY life! Our next step is Occupational Therapy…looking really forward to understanding our special little angels even more and being able to help them cope in this world!

    • Marie,
      Thank you so much for your kind words, for featuring my post, and for hosting. I think it is important for people to understand what sensory issues feel like to those who struggle with them, that is why I made this post. I hope you have a blessed weekend!!

  2. Thank you for sharing your storyand God Bless you and your family! My youngest has SPD and it jas been(still is at times) getting the right kind of help and support. Thank you!

    • Sarah,
      From what I know about SPD and all the research I have done, it is not hereditary. My personal opinion is that it is a mix of different things 1-the chemicals in vaccines 2-chemicals and pollution in the air 3-the bad toxins in our foods and GMO’s. My reasoning for thinking this is because if you look back 50 years there was very very little autism or SPD. Today it is so prevalent what has changed in the last 50 years? The number of vaccines we require, the GMO of our food system, and the pollution levels. Like I said this is my personal opinion and from independent research, I have read about it. Thanks for your question. I hope you have a blessed holiday weekend!!




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