Is Sensory Processing Disorder a Real Thing?

The medical community is split over whether SPD should be an official diagnosis, but parents of children with the condition say it’s all too real.

In most of the pictures of my daughter as a baby, she’s sucking on one of her stuffed animal comfort toys.She never really took to pacifiers, a fact I was smugly proud of back then.But as soon as she was able, she began stuffing those “lovies” into her mouth.I would find the stuffed animal heads with blanket bodies scattered throughout the house.Nothing I tried worked to curb the habit.It’s a habit my 4-year-old daughter still continues today, although she saves her sucking mostly for bedtime and naps.

It seems like a fairly normal and innocuous childhood habit.

In fact, when I mentioned it to dentists and pediatricians, they all seemed mostly unconcerned.

Until other issues started to surface.

When it came time for solid foods, my daughter would avoid anything that had recently been warmed. She would accept room temperature food but preferred frozen if at all possible.

When planes would fly overhead, she’d clap her hands to her ears and cry out, “Too loud, Mama! Too loud!”

And when all my friends’ children moved past the stage of exploring everything with their mouths, my daughter was still sending me into panics over the things she managed to swallow.

Eventually, a behavioral therapist suggested sensory processing disorder (SPD).

My daughter, it seems, was orally seeking and auditorily avoiding.

We were lucky.

Getting my daughter treatment came fairly easily and through occupational therapy she began to make incredible strides.

I learned how to help her address her sensory needs and over time she began to learn how to anticipate and address those needs herself.

We were lucky.

We had understanding doctors and are part of a healthcare system that was accommodating.

Not every family has been as lucky as ours.

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