Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation Provides Signs of SPD in Children – from Picky Eating to Temper Tantrums

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Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects five to ten percent of all children. Learn the signs of SPD during National Sensory Awareness Month.

Occupation therapy is an effective treatment for SPD

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects five to ten percent of all children. Treatment typically involves occupational therapy with a sensory approach.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects five to ten percent of all children – an average of one child in every classroom.

Imagine having a child who finds hugs unbearable, or a child who throws temper tantrums virtually every time he or she is taken to a restaurant or store, or a child who refuses to eat. These behaviors are daily realities for more than three million children in the United States alone.

October is National Sensory Awareness Month. The Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation wants parents to know the Red Flags of SPD:

  •     Overly sensitive to touch, noises, smells, or movement
  •     Floppy or stiff body, clumsy, poor motor skills or handwriting
  •     Difficulty dressing, eating, sleeping, or toilet training
  •     Frequent or lengthy temper tantrums
  •     Easily distracted, fidgety, withdrawn, or aggressive
  •     Craves movement
  •     Easily overwhelmed

Most children with SPD are just as intelligent as their peers, and many are intellectually gifted. Not all children are affected the same way. One child with SPD may over-respond to sensation, and find clothing and certain foods unbearable. Another might under-respond and show no reaction to pain, while yet another might have coordination problems.

Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, founder of the SPD Foundation, provides parents with background information about SPD and common sense strategies for helping children with sensory issues in her books, "Sensational Kids" and "No Longer A SECRET." According to Miller, “SPD is not a reflection of bad behavior, and it is not caused by bad parenting. In fact, it’s not ‘bad’ at all. It’s physiologic in nature.”

Treatment for SPD typically involves occupational therapy, which enables children to participate in the normal activities of childhood, such as playing with friends, enjoying school, eating, dressing, and sleeping. Depending on the child’s symptoms, other types of treatment might also be recommended, including feeding programs, listening therapy, speech and language therapy, or the DIR® Floortime model.

To learn more about SPD, including education, research and treatment options, visit

The mission of the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation is to improve the lives of children with SPD and their families by conducting research, educating caregivers, pediatric professionals, and educators, and empowering scientists throughout the world to study the diagnosis and treatment of SPD. The SPD Foundation, a Colorado 501(c)(3), offers education programs, conducts SPD research, and provides resources for parents worldwide. For more information, visit or call (303) 794-1182.

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Janice Roetenberg

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