Being successful in modern society implies dealing with different tasks successfully. Successful people usually make winning choices based on their theoretical and practical knowledge of the world. Thus, individual perceptions of the world contribute to personal success. Nevertheless, a distorted perception of reality may become a hindrance to success. That is a particular problem for those who suffer from sensory processing disorder. This condition can become a real challenge for a person. That is why it is important to know its signs and symptoms, its causes and consequences, and its influence on an individual’s life.
Sensory processing disorder is a condition that emerges under the misinterpretation of everyday sensory information. It includes responses to touch, sound and movement information necessary for adequate functioning in the environment. Though the causes of the disorder have not been identified, it can be often inherited. It allows one to say that the condition has a genetic factor in it. Sensory processing disorder is exemplified by considerable problems in organizing sensation from the body and the environment. People with this condition usually have difficulties in the performance of daily routine acts, together with leisure and play actions. Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is usually diagnosed in children, but it can also affect adults. According to the study of Roianne Ahn et al., “at least 1 in 20 children’s daily lives is affected by SPD” (291). Sometimes people who have not treated experience symptoms in adulthood as well. Thus, they continue to suffer from their inability to interpret their sensory messages effectively. Apart from that, sensory processing issues usually come with developmental disorders like autism.
The interesting fact about this disorder is that it affects patients differently. It can either affect people in one sense (just movement or just sight) or in multiple senses. One individual with SPD may over-respond to sensation, and the other may under-respond to sensation. Those with over-responsivity usually display such symptoms as irritation by clothing fabrics, disproportional response to touch, sensitivity to sounds (volume and frequency), avoidance of crowds and noisy places, irritation by light, sleeping disorders, high activity level, and extremely high pain threshold.
Meanwhile, those with under-responsivity usually display such symptoms as responsiveness to visual, auditory (even to becoming deaf) and movement stimulation, difficulties in waking up, slowness, unawareness of being soiled or wet (in little children) and unawareness of causing pain to other people. Thus, while one is bothered by light, sound or physical contact, the other would not react to stimulation at all. Sometimes it can go to the extremes, for instance, when a person does not respond to pain and extreme temperatures.
The disorder was first discovered by the occupational therapist Jean Ayres. As a neuroscientist, this woman studied the connection between sensory processing and the behavior of children with different disabilities. Ayres first called this phenomenon sensory integration (222). Occasionally, she discovered that the disorder prevented some parts of the brain from receiving information necessary for interpreting sensation correctly. She noticed that people with this condition had difficulties in proceeding sensory information and acting upon it. Ayres admitted these people had certain challenges in performing different daily tasks. It could lead to anxiety, depression, school failure, and other negative outcomes. Later researchers tried to explain the sensory integration, yet, Ayres’s study was the first in the field)
Unfortunately, doctors may be not aware of sensory processing disorder. Though the disorder is real, it is somehow hidden from others. The problem is that many health care experts are not trained to recognize sensory problems. Besides, this disorder is not recognized as a mental disorder in specific medical manuals. Therefore, the condition is often misdiagnosed. Most often it is taken for the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In fact, parents are the first people to notice that something is wrong with their children by observation of functional activities. A child who has sensory issues responds to sensory experiences disproportionally, and it may look suspiciously. A professional examination of a child’s sensitivity and developmental screening may confirm the condition. Parents may turn to such doctors as occupational therapists, psychologists, or physiotherapists. The diagnosis would be received from the use of standardized tests, questionnaires, observational scales, and free play observation. Yet, sometimes the only means to reveal the disorder is a full psychological and neurological evaluation.
Luckily, sensory processing disorder can be treated, especially when an early-intervention program is used. Treatment usually depends on the specific individual needs of every given child. The general use of treatment improves children’s skills and adjusts them to things they cannot tolerate. As the aim of SPD therapy is to involve all senses, the following methods are used. The actual treatment for sensory processing issues is called sensory integration. It consists of occupational therapy in a special games-adjusted setting called the “OT gym.” Children with sensory processing disorder may be exposed to physical listening and language therapy. However, in most cases therapists encourage children to play different games involving swinging, jumping on trampolines, games with sand and water, light-play, and scent-play. Using these techniques, therapists try to give children appropriate challenges, evoke an adaptive response, and stimulate active engagement. They teach children how to react to visual, auditory and tactile stimuli properly. Alternative kind of treatment is acupuncture, but it has little scholar coverage in the medical press. At the same time, occupational therapy for sensory processing disorder works best when i