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Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder

A hands-on lesson

My cast is off! Now I get this nifty brace.

Have you heard of Sensory Processing Disorder? It’s when the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to sensory input. (See a checklist here.)

Nobody in my family has SPD, but I did have a student with the condition. His mother had me read The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz, which really helped me become a better teacher.

I’ve been thinking about SPD a lot because yesterday my cast came off. Now I have two arms feeling two different things.

Just touching the skin on my left arm hurts.

A gentle breeze is extremely uncomfortable.

Lukewarm water feels hot.

I know that physical therapy will help with all of this. In the meantime, I’m getting a hands-on empathy lesson about SPD.

I only have one arm out of sync. I can’t imagine what it would be like living with your whole body feeling that way–or parenting a child who was dealing with that experience on a permanent basis.

Thankfully, there are resources available to help. Children with SPD usually qualify for Occupational Therapy through their local school districts starting at age three through IEPs.

Inside the reading nest.

Inside a reading nest.

In the classroom, teachers can help kids with SPD by:

At home, parents can share the Beyond Play catalogue with grandparents. It will have lots of good ideas for Christmas and birthday presents. (I sound like I work for the company but I don’t.)

A glitter wand

A glitter wand

One final note. Children who are gifted can also sometimes have sensory issues, but usually not extreme enough to qualify for an official diagnosis of SPD. If this sounds like your child, click here for more information