October is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Awareness month. Until Hannah's developmental therapist first mentioned SPD over a year ago, I had never even heard of it. Kimberly (Hannah's DT at the time) started throwing around words like proprioceptive input and vestibular system. I felt confused and a bit overwhelmed. She stated that Hannah would need a sensory diet and I immediately worried about my ability to deal with any sort of specialized diet since I'm not much of a cook. It turns out a sensory diet isn't food at all (well it can be, but that's another story!), but is instead a list of activities that meet various sensory needs. We would soon find out that a sensory diet for Hannah would turn all of our lives around. Throughout this month I'm going to try to post some information about SPD in general as well as how SPD affects Hannah and what we've found helps her manage it. I'll also be linking to previous blog posts where I touch upon SPD issues as well as linking to other blogs written by parents with children with SPD.
I'll start by detailing what exactly SPD is. According to the SPD Foundation,
"Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively. "
According to their website SPD can look like,
"SPD can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These are the "floppy babies" who worry new parents and the kids who get called "klutz" and "spaz" on the playground. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids often are misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD."
For more information on signs and symptoms of the various sensory systems that may be affected check out the Sensory Processing Disorder Resource Center.
Finally, for those of you who aren't familiar with Hannah's story, here is a link to the post I wrote last year for SPD Month.