What are some signs of Sensory Processing Disorder?
Tactile Sense: input from the skin receptors about touch, pressure, temperature, pain, and movement of the hairs on the skin.
Signs of Tactile Dysfunction:
Hypersensitive: Refuses or resists messy play; resists cuddling and light touch; dislikes kisses, rough clothes or seams in socks; resists baths, showers, or going to the beach.
Hyposensitive: Doesn't realize hands or face are dirty; touches everything and anything constantly; may be self-abusive; plays rough with peers; doesn't seem to feel pain (may even enjoy it!)
Remember that inconsistency is a hallmark of this disorder, so you may find yourself/your child being hypersensitive one day and hyposensitive another day and on yet another day seem completely normal. For a more complete checklist of symptoms, click here.http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html
Besides eating issues (more on that to come in Fact #10), tactile dysfunction was one of our first noticeable signs of Josiah's SPD. He seems to have a lot of trouble with modulating input from this sense, vascillating between being extremely hypersensitive to being extremely hyposensitive. He tended to shy away from strange goopy textures on his hands, hated bare feet on grass, and despised having his head and body touched lightly (but loved having deep-pressure touches). One of the first sentences I remember him saying before he turned two was "No touching his head!" At the same time, he also used touch as a primary means of exploring his world (for things that were non-goopy anyway) and needed to use a heavy touch to interpret the sensations (touching with just a fingertip was impossible for him).
After a few years of therapy, he is doing MUCH better with his tactile issues. He still likes to touch and handle everything he sees, even things he has seen many times before -- it is as if he is touching it for the first time every time. We encouraged lots of goopy, messy play with his hands and lots of barefoot time, and now he LOVES (craves, even) touching goopy things and running around barefoot. In fact, he seeks out opportunities to dig in the sand (even with his head, to feel the sand on his scalp -- he's a total sensory seeker!) and mash play-doh or gak. He does still have trouble modulating, though, and when he gets suddenly overwhelmed with the goopy feeling and needs to get it off his hands immediately when he reaches that point. He also still isn't very fond of massages unless we use really deep pressure, and hair cutting is a huge to-do (the feel of the hair clippings on his neck drive him bonkers!) but he adores wrestling with daddy (lots of deep pressure touch there) and doesn't respond so defensively at unexpected light touches (like being brushed against or bumped into by peers on the playground). It is still a struggle for him at times, but he has learned to cope so well with his tactile senses that it isn't nearly as obvious anymore.
Don't forget to stop by Hartley's Life with 3 Boys to read 30 Stories in 30 Days, guest blogs from 30 different families about their experiences with an SPD child.