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Portrait face of a young girl (female age 05) with closed eyes and covering ears screaming

Signs of SPD

What to look for

Signs of SPD likely include the daily struggles you experience with your child. Symptoms can emerge a challenging behaviors/meltdowns, poor academic success, or struggles with daily routines. Sensory processing skills are foundational for higher-level brain functions to develop and mature. Skills such as learning, communication, and attention are dependent on how efficient one is able to process sensory input. When the sensory foundation is not working efficiently and automatically is when we see disruptions in emotional regulation and participation in daily life activities. 


  • meltdowns daily or multiple times a day

  • aggression

  • doesn’t follow directions

  • constantly moving

  • meltdowns with certain sounds

  • overwhelmed in busy environments

  • does not want to move

  • lethargic

  • clumsy and falling over the place

  • bouncing off the walls/hyperactivity

  • tensing up

  • teeth grinding

  • poor eye contact

  • doesn’t like change or surprises in routine

  • poor imagination skills

  • doesn’t know personal space

  • withdrawn

  • anxiety

  • struggles with transitions

Daily living skills

  • does not tolerate certain clothing

  • poor sleep habits

  • picky eater

  • hates teeth brushing

  • does not tolerate water over face in bath

  • does not tolerate hair styling

  • difficulty potty training

  • poor sequencing morning routine

  • needs constant reminders for follow through with daily tasks 

  • does not tolerate food on face/hands

  • does not tolerate being barefoot

  • oversensitive to certain food smells or textures 

  • overwhelmed in busy places like restaurants, birthday parties


  • can’t sit still

  • poor attention and easily distracted 

  • poor handwriting

  • struggles with reading

  • poor socialization skills with peers

  • falls out of desk chair 

  • does not follow direction

  • makes noises during class 

  • touches or pushes peers 

  • slumps in chair or leans on table 

  • falls apart at home after school day 

  • disruptive during class 

Happy Girl


Sensory processing problems are linked with impaired neurological functioning and are also commonly seen in individuals who have the following diagnoses:


 Sensory Integration Dysfunction/Sensory Processing Disorder 

 Non-Verbal Learning Disability 

 Intellectual Disability

 Cerebral Palsy 

 Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder 

 Down Syndrome and other chromosomal disorders 

Possible risk factors associated with SPD:

Low birth weight  

Prematurity (less than 36 weeks gestation)

Prenatal complications

Maternal stress

Maternal illness

Maternal use of medications

Delivery complications

Assisted delivery methods

Ethnic minority

Living with a single parent

Lower socioeconomic status

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