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Recognizing Sensory Issues in Early Childhood

Mental Health

Recognizing Sensory Issues in Early Childhood

By: Nicole Morton, LMSW & Megan Peters, LPC – Mental Health Specialists

The Child Mind Institute describes sensory issues as the inability or difficulty of “integrating information from the senses, which may overwhelm children and result in confusing behavior”. Children who are experiencing these problems may overreact or underreact to sounds, touch, and/or food textures.

Because of the brain and bodies inability to process information your child’s behaviors may be misinterpreted as impulsive, clumsy, picky, oversensitive, immature, fearful, and anxious.

Common sensory issues are:

  • Tactile – does not like to be touched, is sensitive to seams and/or tags on clothing, sensitive to different textures
  • Taste/Smell – avoids certain smells and tastes, limits food to certain textures or temperatures, picky eater
  • Movement – becomes anxious or upset when feet leave the ground, dislikes activities where head is upside down
  • Under Responsive/Seeks Sensation – rough with peers and toys, touches people and objects frequently, becomes overly excited with movement, enjoys strange noises
  • Auditory – easily distracted by noises, doesn’t respond when name is called, difficulty paying attention
  • Low Energy/Weak – tires easily, props to support self, weak grasp
  • Visual/Auditory – bothered by loud noises, holds hands over ears, bothered by bright lights, watches people as they move around the room

If this sounds like your child then you are not alone.  More and more children are exhibiting sensory issues. You can start by talking to your child’s pediatrician to see if she recommends a screening or a specialist. Pediatric Occupational Therapist can help by providing activities to help with your child’s focus, emotional regulation and response to sensory stressors.

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