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FALL into Your Senses: An 8-Part Series About Our Sensory Systems in Honor of SPD Awareness Month

Not only is October the month for sweaters, spookiness, and pumpkins, it is the month that brings awareness to Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a disorder that impacts the daily life of 1 in 6 children (STAR Institute, n.d.). Our sensory systems are the ones that guide us toward safety and away from danger as we venture through the day. They pick up the sensory information on the outside of our body and within our body to keep us safe and functioning. Essentially, as sensory information comes into or from our body and up to our brain, our brain decides if the input is too much or too little and directs our behavior in response to it. Think about a toddler or yourself touching a hot stove and immediately pulling their hand away, the input was too much (too hot!) and the toddler’s brain responded reactively to move the hand away from this sensory input. SPD arises when the over or under responsivity that our brain processes, causes challenges or dysfunction in an individual’s daily life (i.e. if the toddler touches the hot stove but does not pull their hand away for a while).

In children with SPD, a sense of safety is constantly thwarted, thus their bodies are in need of constant safety seeking. When the sense of safety is being compromised, this leads to the child’s body to become dysregulated and have a meltdown. Often, SPD, or even sensory sensitivities, get missed because parents and professionals assume the child has behavior problems or is intentionally misbehaving. In reality, the child’s body is telling them that the environment s