How Sensory Processing Disorder Affects Different Ages

Sensory Processing Disorders can affect children at all stages in various ways. Children can have difficulty interpreting sounds, movement, and textures which impacts their everyday lives.


How SPD Affects Kids Under 5

SPD affects children under 5 by impacting their ability to participate in activities that are typical for development. For example, a child who has SPD, might not want to use paint during an arts and crafts project for fear of getting dirty. They could display negative behaviors to avoid participating in the painting activity. This child could be then labeled for their behaviors rather than just giving them a pair of gloves or making adaptations to help them tolerate getting messy.

Some children can become disruptive since they are unable to sit still to focus. Other children may be afraid to climb the outdoor equipment due to poor balance. Whichever the reason, children need to play with various textures, sounds, and movements to develop skills later in life.


How SPD Affects Elementary Aged Children

Children who have auditory processing issues are unable to follow what the teacher is saying while various additional noises appear in the class. One might be able to ignore a pencil tap or a truck outside the window. Others will lose focus on what the teacher is asking and focus on those noises instead. For some, the light might be too bright impacting their ability to look up at the board. Others may have poor sensory processing impacting their ability to sit still for a lesson. Their fight or flight can be easily triggered causing them to run away from being overstimulated. Children might be rough or bump into others or touch everything. Children need to be able to intake information from their environment, interpret it, and have a productive response. Without a typical developing Sensory Processing System, your child can have issues with attention, fine motor skills, gross motor development, and academics.


How SPD Affects Middle School-Aged Children

By middle school, most children have learned to stay away from activities that they are unable to be successful at and partake in areas that they thrive in. Children who are uncoordinated will avoid dance or sports while others who have fine motor skill issues or visual motor/visual perceptual issues will avoid art. Children who have not received Occupational Therapy at this stage will not overcome their SPD. Getting an OT will help your child achieve their highest level of potential with no limitations due to their SPD.



How SPD Affects High School-Aged Children

Children in High School with SPD will have similar issues as they did when in elementary school and middle school. They have made adaptations like the middle schooler to avoid scenarios so they don’t have to deal with the triggers. For example, they might not want to eat in the lunchroom because it is too noisy so they find a quiet classroom to eat in private. If they are seekers they might join a wrestling or gymnastics program to help them feel calm and organized. It is crucial to help your child find a healthy outlet to help them feel confident. Music lessons, athletics, art are all great ways to help your child improve their skills.


The best way to help your child is to get your child the help they need at an earlier stage. This will allow them to learn the proper skills they need to function in and out of the classroom. If you ever have any concerns while they are younger, be sure to consult with your physician immediately.


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