What You Need To Know About Sensory Processing Disorder

While approximately 10% of school-aged children experience some form of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – a condition that was recently diagnosed as a form of autism, SPD has only recently received its own diagnosis. Because many of the symptoms of SPD overlap with those of children who have ADHD or are on the autism spectrum, diagnosis has been challenging for doctors.

sensory processing disorder

What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

Sensory processing is the ability to take in sensory information from the world around us and interpret this information effectively so that we may function optimally throughout the day. The brain not only processes information through the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and sound, but the nervous system also interprets this sensory information and translates it into movement, body position and pressure.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) occurs when the nervous system has difficulty regulating, processing, and interpreting information from one or more of the senses. This may affect one’s ability to function optimally in all environments, and these difficulties can adversely affect a child’s social skills, academic performance, and motor development.

Different children perceive and process sensory information differently. Some children find loud noises scary, while others search for interesting ways to create noise. Similarly, some children may only tolerate certain fabrics or textures for clothing, while others may enjoy rolling around in grass, sand, or on the carpet. All children and adults have different sensory preferences, and while most adults have learned to adapt to their specific needs, some children need guidance in processing sensory information to reach their full potential.

sensory processing disorder

Are There Treatment Options For SPD?

For many individuals, music or sound therapy is the answer to training the brain to process sensory information correctly. Organizations such as Millennium Learning Advantage recognize that the brain is capable of change, regeneration and growth, and use brain-based learning and cognitive enhancement programs that are specifically designed to fine-tune the brain’s ability to comprehend and manage information to help children with various needs achieve success.

Hear what one mom had to say about The Listening Program – a unique program designed to address auditory processing issues (one of the many programs available at Millennium Learning Advantage):

For more information on sound therapy and sensory processing programs,  visit millenniumlearningadvantage.com.

The WestCoast Families July August issues is full of information and resources for families with special needs. Pick up a copy from a location near you, or read the current issue online here.


Most of us are familiar with the Kids Help Phone, which allows teens and children to express feelings, thoughts, concerns and life issues to trained counsellors. It also offers a chance for teens to give a voice to mental health issues, which to this day remain clouded in shame. But boys often feel particularly stigmatized when it comes to seeking help, a pressure that can prevent them from obtaining treatment and assistance. The holidays can also prove to be a particular stressful time for all of us and in an effort to end the stigma of mental health issues, we need to encourage all ages and genders to come forward when they are struggling. Thankfully, Kids Help Phone, with funding support from the Movember Foundation, launched BroTalk, an online support and referral service that provides male teens a resource when they are struggling to cope. Through the program, they can be directed to Kids Help Phone counsellors, online suggestions, and other options for accessing support. Movember is helping to support this venture in their mission to bring awareness and support to male health issues, and this includes mental health. Make sure your teen boys are aware that support is available with the click of a mouse.

Mental Health in Children

Just like their adult counterparts, children have anxieties, fears and mental health conditions that need care and attention from not only the medical community, but from teachers, parents and friends. And yet sometimes, children with mental health conditions do not receive the care that they need and their behaviour can be mistaken for “naughtiness” or “acting out,” when in fact, the child is struggling on the inside. 

We came across this post written by Karen Copeland, a mother of a child with mental health issues. It is moving, powerful, and touching to see how her child, her family and her own life have been affected by the inconsideration of others. 

Read her post here to develop a new sense of compassion and understanding.