How to Recognize a Sensory Processing Disorder in Your Child Sensory

What a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Looks Like

Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.

Many parents and educators have a hard time recognizing the signs and symptoms of a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in their child or students. Oftentimes it is seen as a behavioral issue, tantrum or discipline problem, when children with sensory issues tend to react to something in their surroundings or environment.  Sensory issues can have a direct effect on how children learn in the classroom, how they process information the teacher gives them, and what their behavior is like with other students.

How to Recognize a Sensory Processing Disorder in Your Child | #sensoryprocessing #sensoryplay

It’s important to know the differences of what a sensory issue is and what it is not, especially if a child could potentially be misdiagnosed with another type of learning challenge. It could mean the difference in how to help a child and what intervention is right or wrong for their specific needs.

How to recognize the signs

Here are some helpful tips to determine whether your child is showing signs of sensory issues or if it may be another learning challenge.

What it is

What it is not

How to recognize SPD
  • A disconnection with the nervous system and the senses.
  • Does not allow the brain to receive the information it needs for everyday function.
  • Children and adults are often oversensitive to things in their environment.
  • Can’t perform daily tasks due to distraction or processing delays
  • Clumsiness, behavioral issues, anxiety, failing in school
  • May only affect one sense, like hearing or touch, or multiple senses.
  • It is not autism or ADHD, although kids struggling with these learning challenges may show signs and symptoms of sensory issues.
  • It is not a disorder “cured” or “controlled” with medication.
  • It is not an act of rebellion or a discipline issue, rather the child’s behavioral outbursts may be due to their sensitivity to certain textures, noises, tastes, or other discomforts.
  • It is not a disorder children grow out of as they become adults.
  • It is not as rare as people may think.
Signs and symptoms to watch for
  • Oversensitivity to clothes, food, certain textures, loud noises, bright light or specific smells.
  • Shows signs of poor motor skills and muscle strength
  • Sensory seeking behavior which consists of bumping into furniture or walls, high pain tolerance to hot and cold or extreme roughhousing and screaming.
  • Tantrums, outbursts or meltdowns
  • Has behavioral issues in the classroom and disrupts other students.
  • Children with SPD could be considered “daydreamers.”
  • It does not mean a child is always hypersensitive. Children with SPD may be undersensitive, which could mean they seek for activities to provide the sensory input their body needs.
  • It does not mean a child’s sensitivity is limited to one area or will remain consistent as they grow older.
  • It does not mean a child cannot learn, listen to the teacher or sit still in the classroom.
Is intervention available?
  • Actively engage children in activities that build the child’s gross and fine motor skills.
  • Find activities that calm their bodies (for example swinging)
  • Talk with an Occupational Therapist or find a center that provides movement therapy to help the child’s sensitivity.
  • Use music therapy combined with movement therapy to improve behavior, processing and sensitivity.
  • Purchase weighted blankets, weighted vests, chew toys, noise-cancelling head phones, calming music and textured objects the child enjoys.
  • SPD is often misdiagnosed with ADHD and is improperly medicated.
  • There is common misconception that no intervention is available for children and adults with SPD.
  • Children will not eventually “grow out” of a sensory disorder.
  • A “sensory diet” is not a nutritional program, rather a program that provides objects and activities as a regular “diet” plan to calm a child’s sensitivity.

Print Your Own Copy

To print your own free copy of this sensory chart, please fill out the information below.

How to Recognize a Sensory Processing Disorder in Your Child | #sensoryprocessing #sensoryplay

Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs


  1. Thank you! Great info! We are in the process of seeing what is preventing my son from doing well in school so I loved reading this!

  2. This is such helpful information. I am sure many parents with children that have SPD don’t know it and feel helpless. I have a one-year-old and 99% of the time I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, so the posts you have in your blog really help!!!

    • That’s wonderful! I’m so glad they are helpful and you can use them as a good resource. It’s definitely tough to be a parent and I didn’t always know how to help my kids when they were young either. Any resources and tools I can provide to parents and teachers to help kids reach their potential, is what we are dedicated to doing!

  3. What a wonderful, detailed list of signs and symptoms for SPD. So many people seem to lump behavioral issues into the category of ADHD. If parents start by consulting a pediatric neurologist for diagnosis and guidance it will bring more clarity and understanding about their child’s challenges and needs. A behavior modification program customized for their child will be extremely helpful.

    • Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more. Such great suggestions and wonderful place to start. There are so many resources and tools to help, it’s just a matter of letting parents, teachers and students know where to go to find what they need.

  4. […] is a great time and opportunity for us to create more awareness among parents, not only about the signs and symptoms, but also how they can help their children in school and at […]

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  6. Had my daughter tested for ADD, though I wasn’t convinced that was the issue. And, it wasn’t. But, eventually, we realized she had an auditory processing issue. Every school year, I’d talk to the teachers about her need to sit in front, because every sound distracted her. Eventually, she adapted, and sat in back, so she could see the source of noises, then get back to focusing on class. And she has texture sensitivities, in clothing and food. She also is mildly dyslexic. She’s extremely bright, and has not let these issues slow her down. As an adult, she’s working on her masters now(something along the lines of rocket science, at that).

    She gets it from both sides. Her father would get overwhelmed with lots of noise/din, etc, and need to go to a quiet place to decompress. My brain short circuits in loud noise situations. Never could stand concerts. It just hurts.

    • I’m so glad you were able to find the right diagnosis for her. Sometimes sensory issues and auditory issues can be mistaken for ADHD. We find that our students who struggle with auditory issues really benefit from music therapy. It helps them retain the information they are learning from the teacher. I’m so excited she is excelling and is working towards her Master’s degree. That is amazing! All of my students are so smart and can accomplish so much. I hope they all become rocket scientists someday too!

  7. […] Important signs and symptoms can help parents recognize a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in their child. It’s important to know the differences of SPD.  […]

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  9. […] through an entire day of school, but for some it’s even harder, especially if they struggle with Sensory Processing Disorders, ADHD, Dyslexia, processing issues and other learning challenges. Because there is often a gap in […]

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