March 23, 2015

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. The condition used to be called sensory integration dysfunction. Sensory processing disorder can affect all areas of functioning, including behavior regulation, academic learning, motor skills, social interaction, vocational success, and overall development of independence.

Individuals with sensory processing problemsmay or may not have other conditions or developmental disorders such as autism, ADD/ADHD, or various learning disabilities.

Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder

Individuals of any age can be affected by this disorder. The presence of a Sensory Processing Disorder may include difficulties in the areas of:


  • Behavior problems (outbursts, tantrums, aggression, self-injurious, etc)
  • Attention
  • Engagement
  • Patterns of too much or not enough activity
  • Transitions
  • Sleep/wake cycles
  • Eating patterns (i.e. too much or not enough)
  • Patterns of avoidance or seeking of sensory input


  • Issues with clumsiness, balance, posture, coordination, strength, etc
  • Bumps into things and people
  • Breaks things (not intentionally); spills and drops things
  • Easily tired
  • Tends to look, touch, talk, and walk aimlessly, as opposed to engaging in more complex purposeful actions
  • Fine motor; handwriting

Social emotional

  • Lack of confidence
  • Easily frustrated
  • Gives up; loses interest
  • Resistant to trying
  • Resistant to change
  • Helpless attitude
  • Resistant to following directions
  • Controls interaction
  • Poor awareness of personal space
  • Does not seem to tune into others when they speak
  • Overly talkative
  • Resolving conflicts


  • Initiating
  • Planning and organizing
  • Problem solving
  • Self-evaluating
  • Making decisions
  • Inhibiting impulses
  • Prioritizing


  • Poor learning; difficulty understanding concepts and remembering
  • Poor attention
  • Poor organization; time management


  • Sensitivities (hair cutting, face washing, clothing textures, picky eater, etc)
  • Reliance on others to complete daily activities; resistant to doing things on their own
  • Messy eater
  • Resistance to completing certain tasks


  • Time management
  • Money management
  • Planning and organizing
  • Living independently
  • Transportation
  • Managing relationships
  • Developing work skills

Like many illnesses, the symptoms of sensory processing disorder exist on a spectrum.

Many children with sensory processing disorder start out as fussy babies who become anxious as they grow older. Children and adults with sensory processing disorders tend to be more anxious, and tend to have to work harder to obtain the same results.

Many children and adults have symptoms like these from time to time. However, therapists consider the existence of a sensory processing disorder when the symptoms become severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life.

Occupational therapy is the main form of treatment for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Based on a thorough analysis of the individual’s difficulties, abilities, and needs, we design individualized therapy programs to promote the development of attention, behavior regulation, social interaction, motor skills, confidence, and overall learning. The goal of our approach is to produce immediate improvement as well as permanent long lasting changes that will help the individual reach their full potential.

For more information about our occupational therapy services, please contact call our main office at 858-689-2027, or email us at