Making sense of Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is difficulty in the way the brain takes in, organizes, and uses sensory information, causing a person to have problems interacting effectively in the everyday environment

(Kranowitz, 2005, p.68).

"Traffic Jam in the Brain"

The child’s Central Nervous System may not receive or detect sensory information.


The brains regulation of sensory input into the Central Nervous System (CNS). Incoming sensations from the environment are adjusted and balanced in the CNS ready for behavioral output (our response). Our sensations advice us when we do not like a certain feeling (e.g. spinning too fast) or when we are in danger in which our central nervous system tells us to “stop!”



Sensory Discrimination

The ability to differentiate between sensory stimuli. This discrimination allows us to perceive the qualities of sensations (e.g. how fast am I moving?), similarities of senses (e.g. have I heard that before?), and differences among sensations.

As a child develops and matures he responds less defensive to every sensation and becomes more discriminatory about the environment and what is happening around him.

Sensory-Based Motor Skills:

As the CNS receives, detects, integrates, modulates, and discriminates incoming sensory messages within a split second, the end result of sensory processing is when the brain sends outgoing messages that prepare the person to act. When motor output goes to the child’s arms, legs, eyes, and other body parts, the child can then move and act within their environment effectively. This motor output involves postural responses and praxis.

Postural responses allow the child’s trunk, neck and head to remain upright against the pull of gravity. With good muscle tone the child can reach and stretch his muscles, he can therefore grasp, turn and release objects. The child can swing, shift his weight from foot to foot and spin around without loosing balance.

Praxis (doing, action, practice) is based partly on unconscious sensory processing and conscious thought. Motor planning is a term used when discussing praxis, which allows the child to plan her next steps in an efficient manner. Praxis organizes her body to carry out the motor plan and to make further progress.

For a much more detailed description of Sensory Processing Disorder download the FREE PDF guide 







Information based of the work of Carol Stock Kranowitz in “Out-of-Sync Child” – I highly recommend reading this book for a deeper insight into Sensory Processing Disorder.

Kranowitz, C. S. (2005). The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder. Penguin Group: New York

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