The Sensory Spectrum

For SPD Kiddos and Their Parents

What is Sensory Processing Disorder anyway?


I have tried to explain Sensory Processing Disorder in so many ways that I swear my face is going to turn blue. And what about the parents whose kiddos have SPD but still aren’t sure what it is. Here’s the diving board to understanding. Happy splashing.

The Sensory-Behavior Connection

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Author: Jennifer

Jennifer is a mom evolving as she navigates the waters of parenthood as well as having two children with sensory processing disorder and sharing her knowledge. She writes The Jenny Evolution, Generation iKid and The Sensory Spectrum.

23 thoughts on “What is Sensory Processing Disorder anyway?

  1. Does a child have to exhibit all of these behaviors, in order to have SPD?

    • My child was diagnosed 6 months ago with SPD, he is 4 years old. He does not have all the symptoms either(actually about half or less). We are blessed to have a Doctor that believes children have been over medicated and wrongly labeled for many years and will try other directions other than meds. He suggested Therapy such as OT and PT. My child goes twice a week and I cannot express the huge improvement we have already seen. Speak with your Doctor….hopefully he will be open to the will find some Doctors are close minded…if this occurs.. i urge you to move on for your child’s sake.

  2. Wow, this is really helpful. I will be able to show this to my son’s teachers at school.

  3. This is my child! I have told a dozen doctors that his problem is NOT ADHD, nonetheless, it falls on deaf ears. He will be 17 soon, is there anything that can be done at this point?

    • Get him to an Occupational Therapist. There are things to help. We saw a psychologist who suggested OT and he has only been twice and already we are working with some of the ideas to help him like a spinning board to help him get some of the stimulation his body is craving. I can see a big difference already.
      You may need a referral from your regular dr., but check into it.

  4. My daughter was diagnosed SPD….but not all of this stuff applies to her. In fact, she LOVES hugs (the tighter the better) & being tickled. I’m still learning all I can about this

    • Actually, these pictures highlight what flags a child COULD have — for both over-responsive and under-responsive kids. No child has the same symptoms when it comes to SPD. Every child has their own sensory reactions.

    • Your daughter may be among the sensory-seeking children with SPD. I am reading “The Out-of-Sync-Child” by Carol Stock Kranowitz, and it is about kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, but among the “types”, she includes sensory-seeking kids.

  5. Hello,
    I really like this for a simple explanation.

    However, I think you are doing a huge disservice by using words like “always” and “never” here (ex “I always walk on my tiptoes) because that create exclusionary criteria for diagnosis and understanding. Someone might have severe SPD (like myself) and not walk on their tiptoes! Thus causing “professionals” or lay persons trying to understand the disorder to say, “Well, she doesn’t walk on her tiptoes, so she must not have this.” This negates all the other symptoms with which I live. Additionally, depending on the disorder’s course, some people find touch PAINFUL, and do NOT seek out touch or physical interaction with others.

    Is there any way you can revise this to change the “all or nothing” wording? I really feel that your good intentions are putting very misleading and, therefore, damaging information rather than educating people.

    Thanks for listening.

  6. I get so tired of trying to explain to other parents what SPD is!!!!! They just don’t get it even when I try to.

    • It is very hard to explain something to other people when your child looks normal. My daughter was diagnosed with ADD, and unknown Learning disabilities, because no one took the time to find out the problem. My friend while in her college program, spent 5 minutes with my daughter and gave the diagnosis of SPD. My daughter was 15 years old by then. I have been able to get things righted for her, but it is a never ending battle. People still think there is nothing wrong with her, until she opens her mouth, or think she is weird. But when I go to schools and flex my voice, it takes arms and leg bending. Once they finally listen, it turns out well. But my advice is to never ever let up on advocating for your child, and threaten Americans with Disabilities act a lot. I still advocate for my daughter and she will be 30 this year.

  7. April Shank, my daughter also loves to be hugged and tickled, but only to a certain degree, and most of the other stuff applies to her. She also has epilepsy and a congenital heart defect.
    The socks thing really gets me, though. I hate to hear her yell at her socks, see her throw her shoes (even when I step in with alternatives), and say “Fine! I just won’t wear socks today!” (but still want to wear her sneakers – ewww, stinky feet!)…

    spdmama, thanks for sharing this. It’s a good summary or beginning point for us.

  8. My son have been chewing his sleeve cuff to get small pieces of material just to chew in his mouth since he was very young age 2 and now age 14. He still like to have something to chew in his mouth but not from his clothing. I dont know where he get it from. I was not aware of it could be sensory until last year.

  9. Thats my son, how can you help toddlers with this?

    • Emma — There is no simple answer to your question. I would recommend you start by having him evaluated by a pediatric occupational therapist that works with children with SPD and Autism. They will know what to look for to properly diagnose your child. Then they can help you formulate a plan specific to your son.

  10. I really suggest reading Disconnected Kids by Dr. Robert Melillo. EYE OPENING.

  11. So glad I was directed to this site. My child is in 5th grade has an OT but school is not prepared for this type of disorder. My child is super intelligent in science and speaks and acts like a little adult………. But when it comes to school and the work there he could care less. His manners and social behavior are outstanding, but he always feels like he does not fit in. For 3 years we were told he was ADHD and finally the counselor recommended that he be tested for a sensory disorder. BAM the correct answer but teachers are not trained in this behavior. What does a parent do?

  12. Please forgive me if this was previously addressed; there are many comments here and I did not read through them. This nifty little picture graph of SOD mostly only seems to represent sensory defensive kiddos. There’s not much here to describe the sensory seeking kids, which is also very much SPD.

  13. wow this describes my daughter really well, she has only just been diagnosed,

  14. I also highly encourage families to look into It helps with Sensory, Austism, ADD, ADHD, tics, etc. symptoms through food and chemical changes.

  15. My daughter is 15 and was diagnosed in the second grade with SPD. We have never medicated for anything. She had OT for 1 1/2 years intensely with cranial sacral therapy and made huge improvements in many ways. We are still on the path to full health and will continue to work with her through all of her developmental stages. Getting the right help is essential and advocating for your child is key! She also attends weekly therapy for anxiety which is a definitely a side effect of SPD.

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