Studies Find That Sensory Processing Disorder More Common Than Once Thought

There’s that oft-repeated line about how kids aren’t really autisitc: “They just grew up with parents who didn’t know how to discipline them,” people will say. But science is finally catching up to the willful ignorance of the masses. We’re finally getting a chance to teach people about the reality of sensory processing disorder (SPD) and how many children will grow up with some form of it.

Even though SPD has been found to be much more common than once thought, scientists say it still isn’t understood very well — even by the scientific community.

A Pine Grove Country Club event at Iron Mountain in Michigan was recently held in order to inform parents about SPD and educate them on how best to approach the possibility that their children may be growing up with it.

Carol Kranowitz is a National SPD Trainer and Author. She said at the event, “It’s a common, but misunderstood, neurological problem that affects not only children but also teenagers and adults. The behaviors of a person with SPD often look like others.”

That’s because kids experience symptoms of SPD differently. Each person is different, which is just one reason why educating parents and exploring options to treat SPD is difficult; it requires a lot of time personalizing treatment to do correctly. 

Kranowitz explained this phenomenon, and more, to at least 200 service providers at the Iron Mountain event. That’s important, because police and medical personnel often don’t understand when they might be dealing with a person suffering from SPD over, say, a drug addiction. That’s why these interactions can sometimes become dangerous for both the person experiencing SPD and police who don’t understand.

She said, “So we see a fidgeting child, we think, oh, it’s ADHD, let’s him him a psycho stimulant — when in fact, the child is fidgeting because the seams in his socks are annoying him so much, that’s the only thing he is thinking about.”

The point Kranowitz was trying to make wasn’t difficult to understand: sometimes it’s important to figure out what might be bothering an individual, even when that particular complaint might not be made by others. No detail is too small or insignificant, and it’s important to understand the hypersensitivities that some people experience, sometimes even as adults.

DIISD Department of Early Childhood Director Casey McCormick said, “[Kranowitz is] helping us identify the different types of sensory issues that kids may have and then strategies we can use to support them.”

Dickinson-Iron Early On Coordinator Cherie Fila said, “If we can understand that better, we can help them learn what they need to do, or we can help them arrange their environment better.”