Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder

If you’ve come here lately you may have noticed that I’ve been working on a series concerning the topic of SPD or rather Sensory Processing Disorder, in order to bring more awareness to those who do not understand this disorder, what it is and how to cope with it if you are a parent of a child with SPD.

My son Trace who is six has SPD and although every child is different. I want to branch out and share the ups and downs of dealing with SPD, the symptoms and the understanding that these children who suffer with SPD aren’t bad kids with bad parents, but are just kids. They are normal, loving and engaging but just process things differently than the rest of us.

My son has a sensitivity to light

Okay not totally strange, I know. Yet different.  When monkey wakes up his eyes bother him each and every day, and lately they’ve been bothering him much more than before.  Like this morning for instance.

He woke up and was a bit upset because his eyes had trouble adjusting to the light.  We had to keep the house dark and curtains closed for the latter part of the morning.  On the sunglasses went (mine) because the light bothered him so much. I have yet to find him sunglasses for kids that actually help.  We’re working on it.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) ?

SPD (formerly known as sensory integration dysfunction) is a condition when sensory signals don’t get organized into their appropriate responses.

So what does that really mean though?

Well, it means that kids with SPD find it hard to process and act upon information received from their brain to their senses, which creates specific challenges for them in performing everyday normal tasks that you and I might find easy.

My son finds things either overwhelming at times or emotional and often his behavior is perceived as erratic or bad. This isn’t the case. Sure, sometimes he is just being six and difficult and moody. But other times he needs help with things he can’t process or figure out on his own, no matter how many times it is explained.

SPD isn’t black or white. There are many many shades of grey in-between and no two children with SPD are the same, nor are the senses that are affected.  Highly sensitive children can be sensitive to lights, smells, sounds, words, and even their environments.  They can lead regular lives, being kids, playing with friends but are born with a heightened awareness of things.

For Example- My son smells his food before eating it, especially if it is something new. He can actually smell stuff in his food unlike other children his age, things like pepper or spices. He is also acutely aware of people’s emotions, based on their tone of voice, facial expressions, and even body language, whereas most children his age (age six) would be inclined to just ignore those cues.

I don’t like to say my son has SPD because I hate labels, and that is just a diagnosis. My monkey is quirky, fun-loving, uniquely engaged in life, and has special abilities (removing the DIS).  He is smart, funny and although he may not understand his uniqueness.  

It’s my job as a caregiver and his mother to teach him that his sensory challenges are good traits, strong characteristics that can help him in life rather than hinder him.

So the next time you see a child shriek because the room is too loud and act up because there are just too many people to deal with. Don’t eyeball the parents and shame them, don’t label the child as bad or misguided. Understand there may be an underlying cause that keeps the child from processing information the way you and I do.

For more information on SPD visit the Canadian homepage http://www.spdcanada.org/ 


  1. Marianne January 7, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Wow there is so much to understand. Now I guess I can see why my son has extreme tantrums that seemingly come out of nowhere. And to know that they are so sensitive to people's emotions makes so much sense. He can pick up the tiniest things about how I'm feeling and it completely affects him.

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I had no idea.

    1. Jodi - Site Author January 8, 2014 at 1:19 am

      Yes there is a lot to understand. It can be difficult learning it all. I read a lot to try. The tantrums are difficult I'm sorry you are dealing with this, it's hard when it's our kids, kinda makes me feel helpless at times. 🙂

    2. Marianne January 8, 2014 at 4:06 am

      Helpless! That's exactly how I feel! So glad you understand 🙂

  2. miranda February 12, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Hi There

    My daughter was just diagnosed with SPD today. Thank you for sharing your story. I don't feel so alone anymore. I will definitely be doing my homework to help me understand this diagnosis more .

    1. Jodi Shaw - Site Author February 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Awww Miranda I'm sorry. It's not easy getting a diagnosis, but at least now you can inform yourself and learn more about it and how to help her have the most active and best life ever! I'm here if you need me.

  3. Karen Cowper January 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for blogging about SPD Jodi. It is such a misunderstood issue and parenting a child with SPD has unique and interesting challenges. It's a journey that makes you examine what is important in our jobs of raising our children. Our 6 year old son has SPD and each day with him keeps me mindful of the specialness of each and every one of us and how we need to celebrate the little things in life. I try to ignore the stares and comments of others, realizing that they are so focused on noticing the behaviours of others, that they have missed the most important moments and aspects of life. I hope to raise our son to be strong and confident and to be more aware of his own special talents and less aware of how others perceive him.

  4. Michele Gianetti January 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Hi, I just read your blog and wanted to reach out to you. My daughter has SPD and dyspraxia and was diagnosed at 2 and is currently 15. She has made amazing gains in life but started out with the most severe SPD our initial therapist had ever seen.

    I wanted to reach out to help others with our story and as such I wrote a book titled "I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter's Special Journey" about her life and journey and invite you to my website http://www.michelegianetti.com to read more about Elizabeth and my blog. Also, I wanted to know if you would be interested in a review copy of my book to read see if you would find it something you would recommend to your fans. thanks Michele Gianetti


    1. Jodi Shaw - Site Author January 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      For sure Michele and I have been to your blog a great asset for those raising a child with SPD

  5. Kristi - Finding Nin January 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Wow, thank you so much for this. We've only recently seen a huge increase in my son's sensory issues. They've been there forever, but at 3 1/2, they're really starting to come out. He smells EVERYTHING – especially food. He gags (or throws up) when he sees other people eating, brushing their teeth or attempting to brush his teeth. I'm so glad you're raising awareness on this. Thanks big. 🙂

    1. Jodi Shaw - Site Author January 7, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Your welcome and thanks for reading Kristi! 🙂

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