Why Textures are So Critical for Children with SPD

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is commonly attributed to those suffering from autism. However, SPD affects many children outside the spectrum as well. Here are some common symptoms associated with SPD as well as the most prevalent triggers that can affect them and some effective tips for managing these triggers.

What is SPD?

Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, is a condition in which a person's brain has difficulty processing and responding to information that affects the senses. The stimuli that are affected by this condition can be auditory, visual, tactile, or olfactory. A person’s nervous system suffering from SPD doesn't accurately receive sensory information, making it difficult for the person to respond to sensory information in an appropriate manner.

Common Triggers for Children Suffering from SPD

Since SPD manifests in many different ways, the triggers that each child finds bothersome can vary. However, there are many common themes that present themselves in children struggling with SPD.

One of the most common triggers is related to clothing, shoes, and undergarments. Children with SPD may be triggered by rough clothing, tags, or loose-fitting clothing that rubs against their skin. As a result, children with SPD may have strong preferences regarding their shoes, socks, underwear, and other clothing items. Clothing made of triggering materials or textures can create stress and sensory overload for a child with SPD.

Another common trigger for children with SPD is loud sounds. Everyday sounds from lawn mowers, thunder, blenders, or vacuum cleaners can provide triggers for children suffering from SPD.

Tips for Reducing or Eliminating Triggers

It can be very difficult for parents and loved ones of children with SPD to know how to avoid things that will potentially trigger sensory overload.

For children that are bothered by specific types of clothing or tags, tight-fitting clothing be a good solution to minimize bothersome materials. Compression shirts can prevent garments from rubbing against the skin with normal everyday movements and thereby lessen the stimuli coming from touch. Clothing with printed tags may be a much more comfortable option than clothing with tags sewn into the garment. Seamless garments are another great option for reducing tactile overstimulation. 

Common Symptoms of SPD

Since SPD occurs on a broad spectrum, there are a variety of possible symptoms. These symptoms are common indications of an existing issue with SPD or a similar condition.

  • Unusual Fears or Phobias
  • Poor Ability to Track Moving Objects
  • Preferences for Specific Types of Clothing
  • Avoidance of Specific Food Textures

Each form of the disorder can come along with its own challenges and symptoms. Figuring out which things trigger a child with SPD can help prepare for and avoid these triggers in everyday life. SPD can present unique challenges for both children and parents. Understanding the triggers that create stress can effectively reduce situations that can be upsetting and stressful for children suffering from SPD.

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