Sensory Processing Disorder in Children

Sensory processing disorders impact a child’s ability to appropriately receive, process and react to sensory feedback. The disorder can impact on one of the following areas or a combination: visual, auditory, taste, touch and movement.


Sensory processing disorder effects the functional skill development of 1 in 20 children in Australia. Sensory processing disorder can go undiagnosed or untreated in children for a long period of time because it is often mistaken for poor behaviour or ‘melt downs’.

Signs and symptoms

A child may be hypersensitive (over reactive, sensory avoidance) or hyposensitive (under reactive, sensory seeking) to sensory stimulus. The disorder may appear with as a number of behavioural or personality traits the child may develop.

  • Melt downs which are not always explainable

  • Poor listening skills or being unable to follow complex tasks provided verbally or visually

  • Fidgety behaviour during classroom activities or tasks requiring the child to concentrate for an extended period of time

  • Child appears unsettled while seated at a desk, chair or during floor activities- swinging legs, moving around on the chair or unable to sit still.

  • Avoiding rooms or social settings

  • Putting objects in mouth

  • Over or under sensitive to movement, noise, taste, smell or touch

  • Sniffs, licks and touches objects inappropriately

  • Fussy with foods- taste, texture or smell

  • Unresponsive to a stimulus which we would usually respond to

  • Anxiety

  • Difficulty dealing with change in routine or environment

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