Sensory processing disorder (SPD) refers to a condition in which there is a problem in processing sensory stimuli by the brain and giving an appropriate response. Sensory stimuli include sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It may affect only one sense or many senses, or all the senses. Earlier known as sensory integration dysfunction, a person is either oversensitive to sensory stimuli resulting in overreaction or maybe hyposensitive resulting in late or no response to a serious sensory stimulus. SPD usually affects children and starts when the child is a toddler, but it can affect adults too. Sensory processing issues are commonly seen in autism spectrum disorders but not in everyone having such disorders.
Top Homeopathic Medicines For Treating SPD
1. Chamomilla – Top Grade Medicine For SPD In Children
It is a top-grade homeopathic medicine for managing multiple health concerns in children. In cases of SPD, it stands out to be the most prominent medicine when the senses are hyperactive. There is marked sensitivity to noise, touch, pain and smell. Children who need it are very sensitive to noise and music. They are extremely sensitive to pain too. They are intolerant to pain and tend to become violent from pain. Sensitivity to touch is also there and they have great aversion to being touched. They cannot bear anyone near them or being looked at. Intense sensitivity to every kind of smell is another notable feature. In general, the child is irritable, restless and impatient. He/she is ill- humoured, fussy, bad-tempered and throws up tantrums often.
2. Cina – For Marked Sensitivity To Touch
Cina is a highly valuable medicine to manage cases presented with sensitivity to touch. It can help cases when the child cannot bear the slightest touch or pressure as touch may cause muscle contractions (spasms). Child cannot bear the hair to be brushed or combed. In infants and small kids, there may be desire to be rocked fast. The child is extremely ill humoured, annoyed and irritable. There is a desire to scream, strike and bite others. Next sleep issues can be present. These includes restless sleep, screaming or talking in sleep.
3. Carcinosin – With Marked Hyperactivity And Desire For Excitement
This medicine is suitable for cases in which person has marked hyperactivity. There is great restlessness and a hurry fro everything. There is excessive desire for excitement like music, dancing, travelling. There is love for excitement of thunderstorms. It is also one of the best homeopathic medicines for cases of autism, ADHD and OCD.
4. Tuberculinum – For Sensitivity To Music And Desire For Thrill, Excitement
It is well indicated medicine when there is sensitivity to music and desire for excitable, stimulating experience. Those who need it are restless, desire change, cannot remain for long in one place. They have impulse to run and break things.
5. Borax – For Sensitivity To Noise
Borax is a very effective medicine for cases in which sensitivity to noise is the main concern. Children needing it tend to get frightened and anxious with any kind of sound or noise. For example, they get frightened from noises like hawking, sneezing, coughing, lighting a match. Other than this, infants and small kids may have marked anxiety while rocking or swinging. Fear of downward motion is very intense and characteristic. The child may be irritable and ill-humoured, in general.
6. Asarum Europaeum – For Intense Sensitivity To Slightest Noise
It is suitable for persons who get excited/ anxious/ nervous easily. It is a well-indicated medicine to manage hypersensitivity to noise. It is helpful where there is sensitivity to the slightest noise, like noise from scratching on a cloth or crackling of paper. Even the thought of noise that might arise from scratching something with fingernail results in an unpleasant thrill throughout the body.
7. Nux Vomica – For Sensitivity To Light, Odours, Noise, Touch, Pain And Music
It is an important medicine for cases in which there is oversensitivity to external impressions. It includes sensitivity to light, odour, noise, touch, pain and music. The person gets frightened by the least noise and is unable to bear pain. There is oversensitivity to strong odours which may even cause fainting.
8. Lachesis – For Excessive Sensitiveness To Touch And Pressure
Lachesis is one of the best homeopathic medicines for cases having excessive sensitivity to touch and pressure. Persons needing it have highly sensitive nerves, marked skin sensitivity with intolerance to touch and constriction. They are sensitive to tight clothing or anything that is tight-fitting. They especially cannot bear tight collars or neckbands or anything tight around the waist.
9. Phosphorus – For Sensitivity To Odours, Light And Noise
For managing sensitivity to odours, light and noise, Phosphorus is a very useful medicine. Those who require it tend to get startled quickly from noises; there is anxiety and restlessness in general. There is inability to sit still even for a while. They have excessive sensitivity to smell, especially of flowers which may cause fainting. They are also sensitive to light. Emotional sensitivity is very marked in them.
10. Coffea Cruda – When Nerves Are Oversensitive And Senses Are Overacute
Homeopathic medicine Coffea Cruda can be of great help when nerves and sense organs are oversensitive. Mind and body are hyperactive. It is well indicated when the skin is hypersensitive and touch is intolerable, with acute sensitivity to smell as well. There is pain intolerance with fear of death. Hearing is acute, person is sensitive to noise, music, voices, may even hear sounds coming distantly from far away. Sleeplessness is another issue that can be wonderfully addressed with this medicine.
11. Anhalonium Lewinii – For Increased Sensitivity To All Senses
Use of Anhalonium Lewinii can be considered for cases presenting with increased sensitivity of all the senses. The ordinary sounds appear exaggerated. The natural objects look excessively brilliant and flickering lights look brighter. There is a feeling of air being filled with perfume.
12. Colchicum – For Sensitivity To Bright Light And Strong Odors
Colchicum gives excellent results when there is sensitivity to bright light and strong odors. It works well when smelling is so acute that the person perceives the slightest odor which others cannot smell. There is intense nausea particularly from odor of eggs and meat, may even cause fainting.
What Is The Cause Behind SPD?
The exact reason behind SPD is yet unknown. But it is suggested that damage to the part of the brain (mid-brain and brainstem) where processing and coordination of multisensory information occurs, may result in sensory issues. It is believed that a genetic component may be involved and it tends to run in families. According to medical science, SPD is not a disorder in itself, it could be linked to some other disorders like autism, ADHD, OCD. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes problems in communication, social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour. Besides, it may be related to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – a very common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, problems in sustaining attention and concentration and impulsiveness).
SPD may be linked with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in which there occur uncontrollable thoughts that lead to repeated behavior, anxiety, behavioural disorders and developmental delays. Premature children also have high chances to develop SPD.
Symptoms, Categories And Subtypes Of SPD
It can affect any of the senses based on which the symptoms occur that vary from case to case. More than two lakh distinct pattern of symptoms can occur. These patterns are classified broadly into three categories – Sensory modulating disorder, Sensory based motor disorder, Sensory discrimination disorder (SDD).
A. Sensory Modulating Disorder: It has three subtypes —
1. Sensory over responsivity : A person has increased response, early response or prolonged response to sensory stimuli. Those suffering from it may show the following symptoms:
Problems with bright light like flash of camera, sunlight
Giving strong reaction to sound, smell
Getting startled easily
May feel sound is very loud and painful
Feel that even light touch of clothes causes scratching, itching or chafing of skin
May scream when touched
Intolerance to certain food textures, may be picky food eaters
May find hair combing uncomfortable
Cannot wear tight clothes
2. Sensory under responsivity: The person responds less intensely or responds late to a sensory stimuli. The symptoms may include
High pain tolerance
May not respond to extreme heat or cold
May be sluggish
May be unresponsive to anything around them
Can’t sit still and move regularly
May chew things like clothes, hands
May not feel dizzy on spinning
May have problems sleeping
May appear clumsy and uncoordinated
Touch things frequently or put things in mouth
Bump into wall, people often
3. Sensory craving: A person craves for intensely thrilling stimuli. In this disorder, person may be very impulsive, makes and seeks loud noises, feels like jumping, spinning, swinging high, etc.
B. Sensory based motor disorder: In this disorder, a person may have problem with balance, coordination and movement. It has two subtypes:
1. Dyspraxia: Also known as developmental coordination disorder, a person has problems in movement, coordination, thinking, planning and completing motor tasks (a specific task done by movement and coordination of a particular muscle).
2. Postural disorder: In this disorder, sufferer has issues with perceiving body position.
C. Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD): A person has difficulty in understanding and interpreting the difference in sensory stimulus. For example, he/ she may not be able to differentiate between different textures. It has the following 8 subtypes.
1. Visual discrimination disorder
In this disorder, a person can’t rightly process the stimuli that are seen. They may get confused between alphabets and numbers, for example, they have difficulty understanding if they saw b or d, p or q, 6 or 9 and may have difficulty in differentiating colours or shapes.
2. Auditory discrimination disorder
A person has problem in interpreting stimulus that is heard in this disorder. For eg, they may not understand if they heard mat or pat, or cars or card, they may talk too loudly or too quietly.
3. Tactile discrimination disorder
In this, a person has issues in detecting and responding to touch, temperature and pressure. For example, they may not be able to tell about a texture by touching
4. Olfactory discrimination disorder
If a person has difficulty in interpreting familiar or common smells, he has olfactory discrimination disorder. For example, he cannot identify if something is burning by smelling
5. Gustatory discrimination disorder
In this disorder, a person has difficulty in interpreting, recognizing or differentiating different tastes. There is also inability to distinguish between food textures and temperature of food by eating
6. Proprioceptive discrimination disorder
There is problem in understanding sensory stimuli for using muscle and joints. A person is not able to determine how much force is needed by muscle and joint to interact with an object. For example, a person may not be aware how much force is required to hold an object, there may occur frequent breaking of utensils, slamming of door, etc.
7. Vestibular discrimination disorder
In this disorder, there are issues in interpreting stimuli arising from body movement through space. For example, a person may have problem in determining head and body position, may fall frequently, have poor posture and is clumsy.
8. Interoceptive discrimination disorder
There is difficulty in interpreting sensory message arising from body organs. For example, a person may not know if he is hungry or full, unable to tell if is thirsty or not, etc.
In addition to all the above symptoms, a child with SPD in general may be anxious, fussy, may throw temper tantrums, may have behaviour issues, low confidence, he/she may find be difficult to engage in activities like playing or initating a conversation.