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Home > Is it a Behavior or a Sensory Disorder?

Is it a Behavior or a Sensory Disorder?

Children with SPD often display very specific sensory difficulties as follows:


  • Responds negatively to unexpected or loud noises
  • Holds hands over ears
  • Cannot filter out background noise
  • Seems oblivious within an active environment


  • Prefers to be in the dark
  • Hesitates going up and down steps
  • Avoids bright lights
  • Stares intensely at people or objects
  • Avoids eye contact


  • Avoids certain tastes/smells that are typically part of children's diets
  • Routinely smells nonfood objects
  • Seeks out certain tastes or smells
  • Does not seem to smell strong odors

    Body Position:

  • Continually seeks out all kinds of movement activities
  • Hangs on other people, furniture, objects, even in familiar situations
  • Seems to have weak muscles, tires easily, has poor endurance
  • Walks on toes


  • Becomes anxious or distressed when feet leave the ground
  • Avoids climbing or jumping
  • Avoids playground equipment
  • Seeks all kinds of movement and this interferes with daily life
  • Takes excessive risks while playing, has no safety awareness


  • Avoids getting messy in glue, sand, finger paint, tape
  • Is sensitive to certain fabrics (clothing, bedding)
  • Touches people and objects at an irritating level
  • Avoids going barefoot, especially in grass or sand
  • Has decreased awareness of pain or temperature

    Attention, Behavior, and Social:

  • Jumps from one activity to another frequently and it interferes with play
  • Has difficulty paying attention
  • Is overly affectionate with others
  • Seems anxious
  • Is accident prone
  • Has difficulty making friends, does not express emotions

    Related Topics:

    ADHD and Gifted

    Calming Spaces

    Child with Incoordination Disorder

    Modifications to the Learing Environment

    Climbing and Crashing Movements

    Joint and Muscle Activity

    Movement is the Key to Learning

    OT and SI Information Packet

    The Sensory Sensitive Child

    Therapeutic Listening

    Transitions and Related Behaviors

    Fidget Toys

    Oral Vibration

    Why They Can't Sit Still

    Behavior Interventions

    In Service for Teachers on "Is it Sensory or Behavior"

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