August 17, 2015

Therapists in Chicago: Sensory Processing Disorder

In one of our interviews with Step by Step Care Group’s Therapists in Chicago, Christine Deloria mentioned she worked with children that have Sensory Processing Disorder. Sensory Processing Disorder refers to people that have difficulty interpreting sensory information in the appropriate manner.

We use our senses constantly, whether it is for eating, exercising, reading a book, or watching a movie. The process of how the nervous system receives messages from the senses and applies them to the appropriate motor and behavioral responses is called sensory processing. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition where sensory signals do not get organized into appropriate responses. A person with SPD has difficulty performing everyday tasks since parts of the brain are not receiving the appropriate information to interpret the sensory information.

SPD can affect only one sense, such as sight or touch, or it can affect multiple senses. The symptoms might differ based on how many senses are affected, as well as the age of the person (infant, pre-school, or adult). Some symptoms of an infant with SPD could be problems eating, sleeping troubles, difficulty shifting focus, resistant to pain, aversion to cuddling, and poor balance. Symptoms that might affect pre-school aged children may be constant moving, difficulty with fine motor skills, continuous motion, difficulty making new friends, mood changes, not understanding verbal instructions, and clumsiness.

Click here for a full symptom checklist.

Function Impairments:
People with SPD may have motor impairments that might be shown as clumsiness or spastic movements. Life skills such as dressing, eating, and other daily activities may be a struggle because of these motor inabilities. Research shows that some people with SPD suffer from low self-esteem and social-emotional problems. People may also suffer from depression or anxiety. (Ben-Sasson et al., 2009).

Sensory Processing Disorder is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. Children with ADHD sometimes have symptoms of sensory processing but sensory processing issues do not necessarily mean the child has an ADHD diagnosis. An early diagnosis of SPD is best for early intervention. As the child enters school, the child is exposed to a new environment with more sensory triggers and may worsen the SPD symptoms. A study was conducted and it was estimated that over half a million kindergarten children might be affected. (Ahn et al. 2004). A child is most likely to be successful in school if treatment is received at an early age.

Therapists in Chicago Treatment:
The most effective treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder is Occupational Therapy with sensory integration. In the beginning, most Therapists in Chicago work with students in a sensory-rich environment such as an OT gym. They will expose children to all different senses tools, and teach children appropriate ways to cope with the information. The sessions involve active and fun child play with sand, water, balls, swings, tunnels, and more. The Therapists in Chicago will begin to integrate their goals into the homes and schools of the families by offering therapy sessions in the home, clinical, and educational settings. It allows children to use their new skills in every day activities such as playing, eating, dressing, and sleeping.
If you would like to learn more about sensory integration and Occupational Therapy, or looking for an Occupational Therapists in Chicago, contact Step by Step Care Group at (312) 975.3928.


“About SPD.” SPD Foundation. Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 June 2015.
Ahn, R. R., Miller, L. J., Milberger, S., & McIntosh, D. N. (2004). Prevalence of parents’ perceptions of sensory processing disorders among kindergarten children. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58, 287–293.

Ben- Sasson, A., A.S. Carter, and M.J. Briggs- Gowan. “Sensory Over-Responsivity in Elementary School: Prevalence and Social-Emotional Correlates.” J Abnorm Child Psychol (2009) 37 (2009): 705-16. Springer Science + Business Media, LLC, 20 Jan. 2009. Web. 29 June 2015.

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