Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Does your child experience extreme sensitivity to touch, loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells? Or, Do you see them struggling to concentrate due to their uncomfortable clothing? Do they avoid crowded places and resist hugs as well? These are a few signs of the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).The prevalence of SPD among school-aged children ranges from 5 to 16 percent, making it more common than both autism and ADHD. Kids with SPD are also found to be picky eaters. Therefore, a healthy diet and therapy can assist your child in managing these sensory stimuli.

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Sensory Processing Disorder:

The inability of the brain to process the signals and information it receives from the sense organs is referred to as sensory integration dysfunction. Due to this, the child becomes extraordinarily sensitive to things like normal sounds, touch, and food texture. Health professionals think that sensory processing disorder may also manifest on its own, despite the fact that its symptoms are frequently linked to other developmental issues like autism spectrum disorder.

Also, check Autism and Sensory Sensitivity

Causes of Sensory Processing Disorder:

There is no exact cause of SPD but studies have often shown that it might be due to the following reasons:

  • Genetic Disorder
  • Abnormal brain activity/ lack of proper brain activity
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound
  • React aggressively to a touch on the hand or a loud noise

Also. check Early signs of Autism

Symptoms:
  • Issues with eating unfamiliar or textured foods
  • Fear of strangers
  • Difficulty switching attention rapidly
  • Inability to fall or stay asleep for a long period of time
  • Not meeting the milestone
  • Low tolerance for being dressed
  • Slow response to pain
  • Hates hugging/ cuddling
  • Startles easily and is very clumsy
  • Restlessness

Also, check A healthy Autism Diet Plan

Diagnosis:

The following are some tests done by occupational therapists to check if your child is suffering from SPD.

  • Sensory Integration and Praxis Test
  • Miller Function and Participation Scales
Treatment:

SDP treatment is a customized approach and not a one size fits all concept. It differs between individuals and is more specific. According to research, the key to curing SPD is to begin therapy at a young age. Children can develop coping mechanisms through therapy. The therapist will assist you in teaching your kids how to manage the problem. The child’s sessions will depend on whether they are oversensitive, undersensitive, or a combination of both.

Types of Therapy:

  1. Sensory integration therapy (SI): It is based on fun activities that help the child to manage the situation without getting overwhelmed by environmental factors.
  2. Sensory routine/ diet:  These are the list of activities given to children that help to stay focused and organized in control.
  3. Occupational therapy:  It helps to develop good motor skills and cope with everyday activities.

Also, check Activities for Autistic kids

Foods to manage SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER:

Children with sensory difficulties often have increased nutritional requirements because they frequently exhibit oral defensiveness and excessive sensitivity to textures, tastes, and smells that restrict their food intake (such as fussy eating). Fortunately, there are several foods and nutrients that can assist to enhance both sensory and mental performance. Here is a list of a few of them:

1. Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables such as Apple, Orange, Lemon, Papaya, Carrot, Beetroot, Brinjal etc are great energy sources and hence help in handling attention issues and improve brain activity.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics have also been demonstrated to enhance brain performance through enhancing intestinal health. The intestinal tract has a dense network of nerves that have an impact on several brain functions.  Therefore, probiotics’ capacity to improve gut nerve function is especially advantageous for kids with sensory issues. Fermented foods like idli, dosa, and dhokla, as well as buttermilk, are examples of foods high in probiotics.

Also, check Probiotics rich foods

3. Vitamin B

Vitamin B helps to boost brain function, improves attention nd memory and improve the cognitive performance. Some of the foods that are rich in vitamin B are fish, peanuts, soybeans, oats, and bananas. 

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a crucial antioxidant that mainly protects against cell damage and oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Deficits in cognition and memory are also improved. Avocado, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and hazelnuts are a few foods that are high in vitamin E.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids:

There is a link between omega 3 fatty acids and early childhood brain development, according to research. These healthy fats have incredible brain-boosting properties, and additionally play an important role in improving autism features like sensory sensitivity, memory, and attention span. Some foods rich in these nutrients are walnuts, seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds), soybeans, and fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil.

Also, check Why is Omega 3 important for your kids?

6. PROTEIN: 

Protein is an essential component of a healthy diet. It helps to build, maintain, and repair body tissues. It is also necessary for brain health and plays an important role in neurotransmitter production (brain chemical).

Also, check Best nuts for protein

7. Magnesium:

Magnesium is responsible for nerve transmission and nerve-muscle coordination in our bodies. In other words, it guards against a child’s excessive excitement (which can be traumatic). It also increases the effectiveness of vitamin B, which is important in the production of enzymes required by the brain. It may improve sensory sensitivity and reduce behavioural issues. Almonds, spinach, cashews, pumpkin seeds, black beans, dark chocolate, potato, banana, avocado, spinach and brown rice are all promising sources of magnesium.

Also, check what are some disorders in which magnesium can help?

Some tips that may help Children With Sensory sensitivity

There are numerous tools available to parents to assist their children in managing sensory issues or sensitivity. While therapy and professional care are the most important ways to help your child, the work you do at home every day is also critical. You can help your child’s mental health by doing some simple things. Your child’s challenges with autism and sensory issues are unique. Environmental changes can also be beneficial.

Try these solutions:

  • If your child is sensitive to noise, use noise-cancelling headphones to avoid sound at noisy or crowded places.
  • For children who become overly stimulated, consider weighted blankets and jackets. These tools can help them feel more in control and calm.
  • Consult with a child’s teacher about classroom interventions such as advance notice of fire drills or a special cushion for their chair.
  • Introduce new places to your child during quiet times, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend there in subsequent visits.
  • Provide clothing with no tags. Children with tactile sensitivities are less likely to be itchy.
  • Reduce the brightness of a room’s lights because bright lights can be overwhelming for children who are sensitive to visual input.
  • Set aside time during the day to listen to music or bounce on the trampoline.
  • Educate yourself and others in your child’s life about their unique needs and what works best for them.

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