Module 1: Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder provides an introduction to the concept of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and explores the different patterns of sensory processing difficulties that individuals with SPD may experience.
The module begins with an overview of sensory processing difficulties. It explains that SPD is a condition that affects how the brain processes and responds to sensory information from the environment. Sensory information includes input from our senses such as touch, taste, smell, sight, sound, and movement. Individuals with SPD may have challenges regulating and organizing this sensory input, which can impact their daily activities, social interactions, and overall functioning. The module highlights that SPD can be diagnosed in people of all ages, but it is commonly identified in children and may coexist with other conditions.
The module then delves into the different patterns of sensory processing difficulties that individuals with SPD may exhibit. It introduces three main categories: sensory avoiders, seekers, and under-responders.
- Sensory Avoiders: This category describes individuals who are hypersensitive or over-responsive to sensory stimuli. They may find certain sensations overwhelming or distressing, leading them to actively avoid or minimize exposure to those stimuli. Examples of sensory avoiders include those who are sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, certain textures, or strong smells. The module highlights that sensory avoiders may display avoidance behaviors and have difficulty with transitions and changes in routine.
- Sensory Seekers: This category encompasses individuals who are hyposensitive or under-responsive to sensory input. They have a high threshold for sensory stimulation and actively seek out intense sensory experiences to feel more alert and engaged. Sensory seekers may engage in behaviors such as touching objects excessively, seeking out strong smells or tastes, or fidgeting. The module explains that sensory seekers have a need for increased sensory input to maintain their arousal levels and may struggle with focus and regulation in environments that do not provide sufficient stimulation.
- Sensory Under-Responders: This category pertains to individuals who have difficulty registering or processing sensory input. They may appear unresponsive or unaware of their surroundings, as if they are not fully tuned in to the sensory information. Sensory under-responders have a higher sensory threshold and require more intense or prolonged sensory input to elicit a response. They may exhibit delayed responses, appear lethargic, or experience difficulties with motor coordination and planning. The module emphasizes that sensory under-responders may face challenges with self-regulation, emotional expression, and social interactions.
The module emphasizes that individuals with SPD may exhibit a combination of these sensory processing difficulties and that their responses to sensory stimuli can vary. It concludes by underscoring the importance of understanding these different patterns in order to develop effective interventions and strategies to support individuals with SPD in their daily lives.