Sensory Processing Disorder – The Differences between Hypo and Hypersensitivity
Individuals suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), – a condition which interferes with an optimal sensory integration, react differently to the environmental stimuli. For instance, while a common sound like a loud car horn might be overwhelming to some people, while it is disregarded by others.
Essentially, the SPD patients may either over react to what they perceive with their senses or under (or non-reactive). The varied responses of the SPD patients to environmental stimuli bring about the two main sensory processing challenges: Hyposensitivity and Hypersensitivity. Keep reading to find out the differences between the two and how you can help individuals struggling in each.
Hyposensitivity to Sensory Processing Disorder
This group consists of victims who are underwhelmed by the environment around them and are pursuing additional sensory information to get satisfied. For instance, you can know that your kid is hyposensitive sensory inputs if:
- They are constantly touching objects
- They engage in dangerous gameplay and takes physical risks
- They highly tolerate pain
- They are usually restless and constantly fidget and squirm
- They disrupt other kids in their activities or take their personal space forcefully
- They do things awkwardly
- They easily get distracted
- They easily get anxious
- They have a high affinity for noise
Hypersensitivity to Sensory Processing Disorder
On the other hand, hypersensitivity is comprised of individuals who are highly sensitive to mere encounters with environmental factors. An individual with hypersensitivity might pick at foods or be overstimulated by the smell of something. They can also easily get meltdowns when they detect a touch or the common sounds like that of a honking vehicle or flashing or bright lights. Due to their sensitivity to sensory inputs, they tend to avoid activities or situations that trigger reactions. You will identify your hypersensitive child if:
- They are easily overwhelmed by situations, people, and places
- They dislike wearing textured, itchy or any other uncomfortable clothing
- They have limited food choices and don’t like trying new meals
- They are always looking for a harmonious and quiet spot when in noisy and crowded zones
- They are sensitive to bright lights
- They avoid close contact with other people like hugging and shaking hands
- They do not embrace any slight change in their normal routine like exposure to new environments, games
Some people experience both hyposensitive and hypersensitive sensory processing challenges. They tend to seek some sensory inputs while avoiding others. For instance, a child may be very sensitive to bright light while not detecting sound changes in the vicinity and demanding loud sounds. Such a blend of sensory inputs may be a huge barrier to the child’s language development. This is because the child may easily miss some vocabulary as the brain tries to process the information around.
Seek Help Early
The sensory processing disorder victims can be under sensitive, too sensitive, or experience both sensory processing challenges. The best way to help your patients cope with the situation is by understanding their sensory triggers and how they react to them. Seeking help early is an important step in allowing someone to a path to sensory processing normalcy.