What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), previously referred to as "sensory integration dysfunction", is a condition in which a person has difficulty processing and acting upon the information they receive through their senses. This creates difficulty with many everyday tasks. Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder also have Sensory Processing Disorder, and symptoms of these disorders can overlap. Occupational therapists often recommend a Sensory Diet to treat both.
Symptoms may include:
- Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and wandering the house at night
- Throwing tantrums or zoning out in noisy public places
- Have trouble sitting still, focusing, or transitioning from one task to another
- Exhibiting fearful or aggressive behaviors in certain situations
- Craves tight hugs, banging into things, having people sit on him or pile things on top of him
- Covering their ears or being bothered by sounds that don’t bother others
- Constantly putting objects in the mouth past the toddler years
- May lick, taste, or chew on inedible objects
- Avoids certain textures, may hate wearing clothes
- Checklist available here.
Weighted Blankets as part of a Sensory Diet
A weighted blanket can literally be a lifesaving device for entire families where someone is not sleeping or suffering from some form of sensory processing disorder (SPD). Weighted blankets are best used for improving sleep and can also be used on the couch or in the car as a calming tool and for helping focus.
Other Sensory Products
Other products that are commonly used as part of a sensory diet are:
- Weighted Vests - Weighted Vests and Belts are suitable for shorter periods of time such as school. They help calm the individual and improve focus.
- Epsom Salts Soaps - Epsom salts are proven to help calm and sooth the body. A bath with epsom salt soap is the perfect nighttime ritual for kids with SPD or ASD.
- Scented Lotions and Soaps - Many scents have been proven to help calm the body and improve mood and sleep.
- White Noise Machines - A white noise machine is great for drowning out household noise, leading to better sleep.
- Hand Fidgets - These small bean bags are perfect for keeping fidgety hands busy when stress is on the rise.