7 Red Flags That Your Child May Have Sensory Processing Issues

Have you ever wondered why your child constantly jumps on the furniture, cries when they get their hands dirty, or tries to wrestle everybody they come into contact with?

There may be more going on behind the scenes than you think. Sensory processing issues are real, and addressing them could be the answer your child needs to rise to their potential.

But how do you know if your child is struggling with a sensory processing issue, or something more?

Your Kids Table reports on exactly what this sensory thing is all about:

A sensory symptom or sign of a sensory issue is anything your child does that indicates their sensory system needs more sensory input or less. That need happens because of the way their unique brain is “thinking” about the sensory input its receiving.”

Just as in every issue we face there are symptoms that tell a professional what they are dealing with.

If you present with a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing, the doctor may suggest you have a cold.

If you can’t get out of bed for a week, and you have feelings of hopelessness, your psychiatrist may suggest you have depression.

When looking at behavior in children, there are certain red flags that would suggest your child may be dealing with sensory processing issues. 

  1. Does your child avoid movement?

Children who are dealing with an over-responsive vestibular and proprioceptive systems will feel overwhelmed easily with simple activities that require movement.

These systems are called our “sixth and seventh sense”, according to Your Kids Table, and are what make us aware of our movement and balance.

So, if the rock wall at the playground is torture for your child, or they cry every time their cousin tries to roughhouse with them, they may have a sensory processing issue.

  1. Does your child gag on food easily?

You may be one of those mothers who still has to cut their five-year-old’s lunch into tiny pieces, because they are still gagging on certain foods. 

Always check with a healthcare provider if your child is having trouble eating, but if all systems are a go, then consider sensory processing to blame. 

When the oral system is stimulated, a child with sensory processing issues will find it almost unbearable to manage their food, wanting to eat things that don’t make them feel overwhelmed. 

  1. Does your child prefer to walk on their toes?

Every parent has seen this before in a child, their own or otherwise, and it may be because the sensation on their feet is uncomfortable to them, and they want to make as little contact with the ground as possible.

Integrated Learning Strategies reports:

If a child’s vestibular system isn’t working properly, we begin to see symptoms, like toe walking, poor behavior or learning challenges in the classroom.”

There are sensory exercises that can help toe-walkers become adjusted to walking with their heels also, but ignoring the issue can cause life-long difficulties. 

  1. Does your child avoid social events?

There is so much stimulation at birthday parties, weddings, and other social events. It is not hard to imagine that a child who is particularly sensitive to lights, sound, and touch may not enjoy being among all the excitement. 

Many of us who are not dealing with sensory processing issues can barely handle prolonged stimulation like a three hour birthday party full of screaming kids. 

If going to the neighbors barbecue is torture for your child, you should look in to sensory processing issues as the culprit. 

  1. Does your child like wearing tight clothes?

One morning your son comes to the breakfast table with four t-shirts on, ready to start his school day.

You ask why he has so many on, and he responds, “I don’t know, I just like it.” What your child may be trying to tell you is that he has an under-responsive vestibular and proprioceptive systems.

For these children, tight clothing, firm squeezes, and lots of contact are what they need to try to get a comfortable amount of stimulation.

  1. Does your child bounce off the walls?

It is a societal norm in many circles to consider it normal for children (especially boys) to be jumping all over everything with seemingly boundless energy. 

To some extent it is true, many kids have lots of energy that they don’t always know what to do with, but it may be your child seeking our proprioceptive input. 

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This is one of the biggest red flags that should be further explored, because many children will be put in the box of “bad” or “wild” kids, when all they are trying to do is get a need met. 

So, if your child is constantly trying to push, run, climb, jump, and wrestle, then it may be sensory processing issues to blame.

  1. Does your child need to be told multiple times a directive?

All kids will occasionally not listen to their parents, that’s just a fact of life. 

However, if you are noticing that you have to repeat everything you tell your child, whether it is to put their shoes away or just to pass you the salt, then there is possibly more going on. 

An auditory system that is not processing the information well will have difficulty telling their brains what it is they are hearing. 

Understanding our children is vital in being able to connect with them as a parent. We want to be close to our kids, and give them the best upbringing possible.

Sensory processing issues does not mean that your child has a problem, or that they have a condemning diagnosis; it just means that they need special attention in certain areas in order to thrive. 

So, get your sensory diet together, and watch your child transform right in front of your eyes if it is sensory processing that is guiding their behavior.

Please let us know if you have noticed one of these red flags in your chid, and if you explored sensory processing issues as the culprit.