SPD Red Flags

Janie EchtSensory Processing Disorder1 Comment

Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) have difficulty taking in and organising the information from their sensory systems in order to respond appropriately. Many of their behaviours may initially just seem “quirky”, however when these differences begin to interfere with the child’s daily activities, such as eating, dressing, getting ready for school, sitting attentively to learn and making friends then this is cause for great stress for a parent.

If this is your child, have a read through our list of Sensory Processing Red flags below and see if you can recognise your child in any of the examples:

  • Avoids or reacts negatively to being messy, or touching different textures such as sand, playdough, rice, carpet, paint, etc.
  • Conversely, maybe they do not notice when he or she has food, toothpaste or other materials on his face.
  • Refuses to walk outside with bare feet
  • Frequently walks on their toes.
  • Has difficulty finding objects in busy environments, such as a toy box, messy play room, or toy box, even when the object is very visible.
  • Seems unable to sit or stand amongst a group of children, and is almost always observed to sit to the back or side of a group – this allows then to avoid the incidental jostling that happens in lines and groups, and also helps them to control the visual input.
  • Appears to be tired / slow to respond much more often than their peers
  • Over-sensitive to touch, avoids being touched and may be observed to rub at a spot that was touched
  • Alternatively, they may be constantly touching things and other kids and seem unable to stop.
  • Has long or frequent temper tantrums, or has a hard time calming down appropriately
  • Energy levels are not appropriate for the activity at hand. For example they may be constantly moving and jumping when they should be sitting at a desk quietly ready to learn, or perhaps they seem to lethargic and aren’t able to energise themselves sufficiently to participate.
  • Has difficulty learning a new activity
  • Seem unaware when they hurt themselves
  • Becomes very upset when the routine is changed
  • It is very challenging for them to transition from one activity to the next or from one location to the next
  • Hates many grooming tasks such as teeth brushing, hair brushing and haircuts.
  • Has difficulty making friends
  • Is a very fussy eater
  • Has poor eye contact
  • Is constantly jumping, running and purposefully crashing into things.
  • Seems very clumsy, constantly bumping into things and seemingly unaware of where their body is in space in relation to the furniture and objects around them. Or they may seem to lose their balance for no particular reason.
  • Is fearful of movement activities, such as swinging, sliding, being picked up. Might even resist being laid back for nappy changes or hair washing.
  • Seems to be unable to sit still in a chair, constantly wiggling or only half sitting on the chair, constantly getting up and down.
  • Love intense movement, such as spinning, rolling and crashing. They seem to engage in this to a much greater extent than their peers and don’t seem to get dizzy.
  • Their body seems floppy, they slouch often and struggle to sit upright for long periods of time. They might compensate for this by leaning their head in the hands when seated at a table, w-sitting, or leaning on walls when standing for longer periods.
  • Avoids busy environments, such as parties, shopping centers, and play centers. If forced to go to such places they may exhibit lots of negative or odd behaviours or be prone meltdowns much more quickly.
  • Complains about tags in their clothing or will only where certain comfortable clothing and refuses all others.
  • Doesn’t seem to notice when they are being spoken too and you need to repeat directions multiple times.
  • Seems to be always on the go and has a very short attention span.
  • Doesn’t seem to understand personal boundaries and is always in others’ “face and space”
  • Uses excessive force when manipulating objects (constantly breaks crayons, pencils go through the paper, balls are thrown too hard. They may even hug much too hard.

If you can relate to this list, consider having your child assessed by an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing issues.

One Comment on “SPD Red Flags”

  1. Thank you for this information!! We didn’t know if my grandson was autistic, or just delayed. I’ve never heard of this disorder but I have checked off more than half of the behaviors he exhibits on that list. I had a sigh of relief because if we know what the diagnosis is, we can effectively treat him for it. I just want him to be able to learn, comprehend, and socialize like any other child so he can grow up and do anything he wants to do.

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