What is SPD?

Sensory Processing Disorder 101:

SPD is a brain based condition where the brain does not receive sensory information properly.  There are two very important to things to know about when trying to understand SPD.  First, it is important to know the difference between Seekers and Avoiders, and second, it is vital that you understand how many senses humans have and what their impact is on the body.

Kids with SPD are either SEEKERS (they crave sensory input) also referred to as UNDER – responsive, or they are AVOIDERS (they are overwhelmed by sensory input) often referred to as OVER-responsive and most are a combination. They make seek some sensory input and avoid others.  This inconsistency in behaviour can be confusing.

There are the 5 senses that people commonly know: sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing and there are two other important (but lesser known) senses – the Vestibular & Proprioception.

The Vestibular sense is responsible for giving the brain feedback about movement and information about where your body is in space. Is it upside down, leaning, sitting etc? Our balance relies on the Vestibular system. 

The Proprioceptive system is responsible for giving  the brain information about WHERE the limbs are in conjunction to the body.  Proprioceptive info is helpful in coordination and aids the body for things like cart wheels and organizing movements. 

There are literally dozens of senses that can be problematic for SPD kids. Many people do not realize that almost every behaviour or action is controlled by a sensory system.  Here are a few more that you may not have heard about:

Kenesthesia – The sense of muscular movement.  It is the sense which helps us detect weight, body position, or the relationship between movements in our body parts such as joints, muscles and tendons.  Kinesthesia, Proprioception and Vestibular all work together.

Thermoception – The sense of hot and cold.  Allows the body to properly sense temperature.

Interoception – Internal input.  The ability to sense information that occurs within the body.  Things like the need to eliminate, hunger cues, pain cues and even emotions.

Chronoception – The sense of the passage of time.

I personally tell people that anything that has the word “sense” in it is affected by SPD.  So, sense of force, sense of direction, number sense, common sense, sense of speed, sense of pressure and on and on.

As you can see, there are so MANY senses (other than the 5 people commonly know about) and factors like seeking, avoiding, and combined, that there are no hard fast rules for what SPD “looks” like. 

This website lists the senses and what behaviours are associated with each for a child who is UNDER-responsive.   Here is the list of behaviours associated with being OVER-responsive.  

Sensory Processing Disorder is the direct result of poor synaptic pruning.  Here is a video that best explains this:

For a long time scientists believed that “synaptic pruning” had only a small window of time to occur and that if proper pruning wasn’t achieved in that time frame – that the opportunity had passed.  We now know that in fact, synaptic pruning can be turned back on.

The understanding is that the synaptic pruning has been halted or slowed by excessive levels of Propionic Acid that is present in the guts of kids with Autism and SPD.  Dr. Nemechek has developed a Protocol that reduces the excessive Propionic acid and enables the brain to resume pruning – at ANY age!

When I first stumbled upon his writings I was intrigued and sure enough his Protocol has literally melted my daughter’s sensory issues (and much more!) away.  You can read about it all here:  The Nemechek Protocol