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Why Sensory Processing Disorder is not Just the Diagnosis Du Jour for Kids - featured September 9, 2010

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[Source: The Globe and Mail]

Every classroom has one: the kid who bangs against things incessantly, won’t make eye contact and acts up whenever the school bell sounds. He or she may be autistic or in need of Ritalin. But there’s a chance such children are simply overwhelmed by their own senses.

According to Roya Ostovar, a neuropsychologist at Harvard Medical School, some children have problems receiving and organizing sensory input from the environment. Known as sensory processing disorder, the condition involves the visual, tactile, oral, auditory and olfactory senses, as well as the senses used to balance and locate oneself in space.

For children with SPD, normal clothing may feel like sandpaper and school lighting can seem like a laser beam burning their eyes. It’s an intensely stressful disorder that interferes with everyday functioning, says Dr. Ostovar, author of The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing in Children: Easy, Everyday Solutions to Sensory Challenges.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail, she explains what causes SPD and why it’s far more than the diagnosis du jour.

Symptoms of SPD include picky eating, frequent meltdowns, clumsiness and difficulty getting to sleep without a parent. Isn’t this normal kid behaviour?

Yes. However, what distinguishes this disorder is that children with SPD really can’t live a normal life and [can’t] go about their day-to-day functioning without interference from these symptoms.

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Tags: News of the Week Sensory Processing Disorder Newsletter 10 September 2010