Have you ever seen your kid resisting hugs from someone they know well or sometime’s from you too? Also, have you ever noticed your kid getting upset over a restaurant’s bright lighting pattern? If the answers are yes then your child may have sensory processing disturbance.
Now I refuse to call this a disorder as these symptoms or problems don’t actually summarize that your child has autism or any other neural syndrome. There are some commonly overlooked sensory symptoms and signs of sensory issues. These symptoms may hold the answer to why your child is behaving oddly or does unusual things.
Sensory integrations refer to the way our nervous system receives information from our senses. Sensory problems occur when a child has a difficult time receiving and responding to information or situations from their senses. Parents are in the best position to know if their child has sensory issues but they are also the ones who brush it off thinking it’s just a phase of their growing up and they will get over it. Awareness is necessary as these are difficult concepts to grasp and understand for parents. Sometime’s parents know that something isn’t right but they are downright discouraged by the doctors.
Sensory issues aren’t easy to deal with, a roller coaster ride. There are days and nights of tears, frustration, misery, self-pity, of immense joy at the tiniest of successes. For parents how many techniques they try, every day is a struggle. Your child is facing a hard time with patience and sensory processing which is impacting their emotional, social and physical growth.
Moving forward let me give you a brief explanation about the senses-
- Auditory system – The sense of hearing
- Olfactory system – The sense of smell
- Visual systems – The sense of sight
- Tactile system – The sense of touch
- Gustatory sensory system – The sense of taste
- Vestibular system – The sense of balance
- Proprioceptive system – The sense of the relative position of body muscle and joints
In this article, we’ll discuss sensory red flags behaviors related to sensory integration. Once you begin to understand and recognize the challenges of any sensory system in your child, you may want to consult an occupational therapist for further evaluation.
Here are 10 Sensory Red Flags categories every parent should know about:
1. Phenomenal Tantrum
Sensory processing issues may deal with only one sense or multiple senses. Dramatic meltdowns, it’s the first noticeable symptom for every sensory processing disturbance. Parents experience so many meltdowns every day and none of them are pretty. Kids have a meltdown when there is an overload of stimulation. All the information and the sensory attributes turn into traffic jams in your kid’s brain. It makes them unable to cope with the present situation and has a meltdown.
These kids find it difficult to stay still, have the tendency to fidget or move around in their seats. Kids who have this condition will often be seen running around and touching different things, playing with different objects, or talking about different topics at a rapid rate, fidgeting, unnecessary movements of the hands or feet, squirming, etc.
They will often drop things in the middle of the process, and may easily be bored with the task at hand. Kids with this type of symptoms will have difficulty focusing and sticking with one activity or idea. These individuals may seem slow or spaced out, easily disoriented, or lethargic. They may also experience difficulties understanding verbal or written instructions. They may face significant problems in terms of focus, concentration, and attentiveness.
4. Self-Stimulatory behavior
Most of the time it refers to ‘stimming‘ or ‘repetitive movement’. These activities offer the child sensory input which calms the kid’s sensory system. Normal people also indulge in stimming to some extent like nail-biting, drumming, etc. But for these kids, it’s too significant. For example, flapping of the hands, rocking back and forth, spinning in a circle, or spinning objects. Also, they are prone to scratching and fidgeting, lining up toys and different objects. There are few other symptoms such as headbanging, staring at lights, moving fingers in front of their face or eyes, clapping their hands, etc.
Those who are suffering from sensory issues are found to lack intuition about social norms, interactions with others, and how to build relationships. Symptoms related to social difficulties are difficulty looking people in the eye, touching people, difficulty defining and using the appropriate social norms, This type of sensory issues also includes trouble in communicating, having a meltdown at crowded places. Often their lack of social etiquette can halt them from progressing in educational environments etc.
6. Sensory Sensitive
Sensory sensitivity is the most common symptom. This could be things like being sensitive to light or overly distracted by noise, to the point where it affects concentration. They are likely to have poor motor conditions which make them struggling with their balance and their motor coordination skills are also affected. Correlating behaviors with this symptom include picky eating, lights that seem too bright, etc. They are also afraid to play on swings, intolerant to tags in clothing, over-sensitive to certain smells.
7. Sensory Slow
When there are sensory-sensitive kids who are over-sensitive to sensory inputs, there are other criteria in which the kids struggle with a hypo-sensory response or under response. These kids are more passive, quiet, and withdrawn. Their behavior is also different like, immune to pain; don’t feel anything while vaccinated or while getting hurt. They don’t realize the food is too spicy or too bland also they are not able to notice and understand the details of surroundings. Some kids use too much force, etc.
8. Poor Self Concept
The psychology of self — the thought of one’s own identity is really important for any kind of behavioral improvement. Kid’s with sensory issues have trouble with inter-personal understanding. They have difficulty in self-recognition also to differentiate between self and others. The ability to think about one’s own thoughts depends on the cognitive process and without this self-awareness, these kids don’t develop the capacity to experience, communicate and regulate emotions. Also, they develop issues with kinesthesia or awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body.
9. Hates Changes
Sometimes disruption of routine is necessary and change is something every kid gets accustomed to. But for these kids, changes are like challenges. They like to follow a plan. Sometimes minor changes such as moving between two activities can be distressing for them. Often changing the sound, lights, etc. can be too much for them.
10. Physical Pain
Kids with hyper sensations often go through enhanced lingering painful sensations that is their pain stimuli is more sensitive. Sometimes looking at bright light and a small hug can cause physical pain. They have overwhelming sensory issues which is why physical sensations may be experienced differently and in some cases those are painful.
Kids with sensory processing issues encounter an excess of or too little stimulus through these faculties. They may likewise experience issues coordinating sensory data.
11. They may have difficulty making transitions from situation to situation.
12. Lack self-control.
13. Delays in speech or language.
14. Problems with academic achievement.
15. They may crave organization in everything they do from their room to the food on their plate.
16. Have trouble with hand-eye-foot coordination.
17. Bites Toys and sometimes people
18. May perform risky behavior during plays
19. Deliberately crashes on objects
20. Hold pencil and paper too tightly
21. Difficulty looking at listening at the same time
22. Gags easily, difficulty swallowing
23. Does not express emotion
Once you figure out that piece of the puzzle, you can then start working on a cure. Parents go through a whole spectrum of emotions upon learning about their children, such as grief, denial, or anger. However, this is a crucial turning point in the development of both parents. They are now presented with the opportunity to turn this adversity into a lifelong journey.
Converse with your kid about how they can manage their conduct. Assist them to distinguish their triggers and the physical reactions. You may, in fact, have to go through a process where you determine the best treatment plan for your child’s sensory issues. The point is that you as the parent know your child better than anyone, so you are the best judge of his or her character. Remember, consistency is key. Once you have your child in the correct area make sure you use positive praise and reinforcement. Provide your child with reassurance for staying in their area.