Sensory processing, also referred to as "sensory integration," is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses, and the person has trouble processing and acting on the information to complete life skills.


Individuals with SPD can vary greatly in their symptoms. Some can be affected in one sense – such as hearing or touch – or multiple senses. Some may be over-responsive (or more sensitive) to sensory input, such as touch, that would present as being extremely sensitive to fabrics, textures of clothing, standing close to others or trouble with typical grooming activities like hair-cuts. Others may be under-responsive to sensory input, such as messages from the muscles and joints impaired, thus affecting postural and motor skills, or the person appears "clumsy."

SPD is usually diagnosed in children but can exist in adulthood as well.

What you can expect from therapy

Diagnosis and treatment for SPD must be done by an occupational therapist who has received special training in this area. Overall goal of occupational therapy for an individual with SPD is to improve his or her function in day-to-day life and meaningful activities. Specific treatment techniques are chosen to encourage appropriate responses to sensation in an active, fun and meaningful environment. Usually therapy takes place in a "sensory-rich" gym and uses many items, such as swings, weighted blankets or large pillows, to find the "just right" challenge for the individual and improve his or her functioning in all his or her activities of daily living.

Learn more about how HealthReach therapists can help

Schedule your initial consultation today by calling us at 1-262-780-0707.

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Visit our resource center for videos and more information on occupational, physical and speech therapy.

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KidReach pediatric therapy specialists, Milwaukee, Brookfield, Hales Corners, Wisconsin