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Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a common problem for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Having SPD doesn't mean that your child is on the spectrum, but if your child has ASD, chances are very high that they have SPD.

Testing your child's five sense may reveal that everything is in working order. Your child may not need glasses, hearing aids, etc. But they may have a breakdown in how the sensory information is sent to their brain. The brain may get the sensory input just fine, only to have difficulty sending the correct response to the body. Or, both issues may be present in your child.

The "inner senses," or proprioceptive senses, indicate dizziness, a sensation of falling, and a feeling of where the body is located in relation to other objects and people. With SPD, your child's brain may not get that input, so they will spin and spin without feeling dizzy. They may jump from heights that are unsafe. Personal bubbles, that area of space that people feel comfortable in, may not make any sense to your child with SPD. They may stand too close, which can cause socialization problems for them. Conversely, your child may get dizzy too easily, and feel uncomfortable being near others.

The best way to assess your child's SPD is to see an Occupational Therapist (OT). These professionals can help your child to overcome their sensory strugggles and give you ideas about how to accommodate the problems that won't go away. Your doctor should be able to make a referral for you, and your insurance may cover this cost.

As a parent or professional, keep in mind that your child with ASD cannot help SPD. Overcoming SPD takes time, patience, and work. Remember that sensory issues can become physically and mentally painful. An overstimulated child may lash out in a way that seems like an over-reaction. This is not a character issue as much as the child has been pushed beyond their limits of endurance.

Scheduling sensory breaks for a child with SPD may help avoid some extreme behaviors and reactions. Creating a small sensory room can be done economically and will help your child to relax and relieve tension.