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Sensory Processing Disorder -Symptoms Checklist
From the SPD Foundation website
Many of the symptoms listed in the following categories are common to that particular age group. Where more than a few symptoms are found in a child, we recommend you talk to your doctor or check the SPD Foundation's Treatment Directory for a professional experienced with treating Sensory Processing Disorder.*
Infant/ Toddler Checklist:
____ My infant/toddler has problems eating.
____ My infant/toddler refused to go to anyone but me.
____ My infant/toddler has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
____ My infant/toddler is extremely irritable when I dress him/her; seems to be uncomfortable in clothes.
____ My infant/toddler rarely plays with toys, especially those requiring dexterity.
____ My infant/toddler has difficulty shifting focus from one object/activity to another.
____ My infant/toddler does not notice pain or is slow to respond when hurt.
____ My infant/toddler resists cuddling, arches back away from the person holding him.
____ My infant/toddler cannot calm self by sucking on a pacifier, looking at toys, or listening to my voice.
____ My infant/toddler has a "floppy" body, bumps into things and has poor balance.
____ My infant/toddler does little or no babbling, vocalizing.
____ My infant/toddler is easily startled.
____ My infant/toddler is extremely active and is constantly moving body/limbs or runs endlessly.
____ My infant/toddler seems to be delayed in crawling, standing, walking or running.
____ My child has difficulty being toilet trained.
____ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
____ My child is unaware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force/intensity.
____ My child has difficulty learning and/or avoids performing fine motor tasks such as using crayons and fasteners on clothing.
____ My child seems unsure how to move his/her body in space, is clumsy and awkward.
____ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks.
____ My child is in constant motion.
____ My child gets in everyone else's space and/or touches everything around him.
____ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
____ My child is intense, demanding or hard to calm and has difficulty with transitions.
____ My child has sudden mood changes and temper tantrums that are unexpected.
____ My child seems weak, slumps when sitting/standing; prefers sedentary activities.
____ It is hard to understand my child's speech.
____ My child does not seem to understand verbal instructions.
___ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
___ My child is easily distracted in the classroom, often out of his/her seat, fidgety.
___ My child is easily overwhelmed at the playground, during recess and in class.
___ My child is slow to perform tasks.
___ My child has difficulty performing or avoids fine motor tasks such as handwriting.
___ My child appears clumsy and stumbles often, slouches in chair.
___ My child craves rough housing, tackling/wrestling games.
___ My child is slow to learn new activities.
___ My child is in constant motion.
___ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks and prefers sedentary activities.
___ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
___ My child ïgets stuck' on tasks and has difficulty changing to another task.
___ My child confuses similar sounding words, misinterprets questions or requests.
___ My child has difficulty reading, especially aloud.
___ My child stumbles over words; speech lacks fluency, and rhythm is hesitant.
___ I am over-sensitive to environmental stimulation: I do not like being touched.
___ I avoid visually stimulating environments and/or I am sensitive to sounds.
___ I often feel lethargic and slow in starting my day.
___ I often begin new tasks simultaneously and leave many of them uncompleted.
___ I use an inappropriate amount of force when handling objects.
___ I often bump into things or develop bruises that I cannot recall.
___ I have difficulty learning new motor tasks, or sequencing steps of a task.
___ I need physical activities to help me maintain my focus throughout the day.
___ I have difficulty staying focused at work and in meetings.
___ I misinterpret questions and requests, requiring more clarification than usual.
___ I have difficulty reading, especially aloud.
___ My speech lacks fluency, I stumble over words.
___ I must read material several times to absorb the content.
___ I have trouble forming thoughts and ideas in oral presentations.
*While this checklist can't diagnose a child with SPD, it can be a helpful guide to see if additional testing should be done. When filling out this checklist, think about the child's behavior during the past six months.
Importance of Early Diagnosis
If you spot the red flags of SPD in your infant or toddler, the case for seeking immediate diagnostic services is powerful.
Early diagnosis leads to early intervention. The sooner an accurate diagnosis is made, the sooner intervention can begin. Many children and their families suffer needlessly for years because of sensory issues that could have been addressed if a sound, professional evaluation had determined that Sensory Processing Disorder was present and treatment had begun sooner. Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful intervention. The immature brains of younger children are more "plastic," which enables them to change more easily. This makes intervention more effective for them. Older children still benefit but the benefits may take longer to achieve and may be based on cultivating coping skills rather than on modifying the brain, as early intervention is believed to do.
Early diagnosis lays the groundwork for better school experiences. Children who receive intervention at younger ages–as infants or preschoolers–acquire the skills they will need to succeed in school sooner and usually have better experiences once they enter school. This is why federal law requires and funds the screening and, if indicated by the screening, multidisciplinary assessment of preschool-aged children with suspected disabilities.
Early diagnosis can prevent secondary problems from developing. Children who perceive themselves as "failing" at activities that most children perform effortlessly are at risk for other problems such as social difficulties, academic under-achievement, acting-out behaviors, and/or low self-esteem and self-confidence. When children are diagnosed and treated at younger ages, they are more likely to escape this defeating cycle.
Early diagnosis provides correct labeling for unusual behaviors. Because of their atypical behaviors, children with SPD often attract negative labels such as "aggressive," "withdrawn," "weird," "hyper," "out of it," and others from peers and adults. With early diagnosis, these behaviors get labeled early for what they really are–symptoms of an underlying neurological disorder. Undeserved and undesirable stereotyping, punishment, and other consequences are minimized or avoided.
Early diagnosis improves family life. The stress on the families living with sensational children can be devastating. The understanding that comes with diagnosis helps parents avoid such common traps as assigning blame to each other for their child's behavior or disagreeing over discipline. A diagnosis also gives parents an explanation they can use to address the criticism and disapproval that is often directed at them as well as their child.
– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTRP