What’s all the buzz around sensory issues? What is sensory processing? In my world of child therapy – I have made an incorrect assumption that everyone knows and understands sensory processing issues.

Have you heard people talking about sensory issues? Do you wonder what the heck they are talking about.

I am reminded weekly in my therapy sessions with parents that this is not the case and that parents often feel lost and confused around this topic. For those parents I work with and all the parents out there in the sea of confusion – I have written this for you!


Here are the basics broken down. Sensory processing has to do with how children take in their world through their senses. Children on the Autistic spectrum or those that have anxiety are more prone to having sensory processing issues, but anyone can have these struggles.



An emotionally sensitive child can be more physically sensitive as well. Children can be too sensitive (hypersensitivities) or not sensitive enough (hyposensitivities). Many children have both of these issues – depending on what sensory input you are talking about.

If you prefer to watch a video on the topic click here.



Let’s break it down even further –


(fancy word: Tactile defensiveness)


Some children feel more than other children. They feel those sock seams, those tags, those boo boos and tight shoes more than other children. They can’t wear certain clothes and tend to not like jeans. They are more sensitive to the temperature of their body, their food and their bath water. They are more sensitive about combing, washing and styling their hair.


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They may benefit from toys that promote tactile stimulation and prefer clothes without seams or tags:


(fancy word: Oral)


This can be quite a scary and debilitating issue. Some children are overly sensitive to the taste, texture and pressure of foods in their mouth. They might gag when having mixed textures (e.g. yogurt with fruit in it) or only want to eat bland foods. They may not like the feel of food in their mouth.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, some children need to keep their mouths constantly stimulated and like to chew on everything and anything around them. They might drool and stuff their food into their cheeks when they eat. They might chew on their shirts and on their toys.


Oral chew toys can help children who are seeking oral input:

chewable oral vibrators help desensitize oral sensitivity:


SMELL (fancy word: Olfactory)


These children have – what I like to call – supersonic noses. They can smell everything more intensely and often this is not a good thing. They get overwhelmed with smells and might want to avoid restaurants or other environments where the smell is too pronounced.


(fancy word: Auditory processing)


Some children have supersonic hearing. They hear sounds louder than the rest of us. These children will often cover their ears when the rest of us are just fine. They get startled by noises and will often want to avoid loud places like fireworks, movies and concerts. Even mundane noises like the vacuum, garbage disposal and dryer can cause distress for these children.


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Noise cancelling head phones can be a life savor for these children – who can get easily overwhelmed by the noises around them:


Auditory processing can also impact how children process information. You can find more information about that here.



(fancy word: Proprioceptive dysfunction)


This category can be very confusing. These children have a hard time planning where they are going (motor planning). They can appear clumsy, accident prone and uncoordinated. They might have poor posture or seem “floppy.” Some children might bump into things, play too hard with toys and want to wear tight clothing.

Some occupational therapists recommend weighted vests for these children:



(fancy word: Vestibular)


These children may not like to be hung upside down or to be spun around. They may not like being backwards in cars or going on fast rides at amusement parks. They might have weak stomachs and get motion sickness more often. Conversely, you have children who are always on the move and need constant movement.

There are toys developed to help give children the input they are looking for:

Wiggle seats and bouncy balls-


It is important to remember that these children truly feel these sensations more intensely than the rest of us and they need our patience and understanding.


This is by far not a comprehensive or detailed explanation of Sensory Processing Disorder.


My hope is that this article will provide you with a quick explanation of a very common issue. For more information on Sensory Processing Disorder visit Spdfoundation.net.


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Check out this article for 24 Tips for Parenting a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder!

Follow Anxious Toddlers’s board Sensory issues on Pinterest.

More Anxiety Articles


Additional Support

A teen support book on anxiety that your kid will actually read:

This book offers teen help, without the psychobabble. A must read for teens suffering with anxiety and parents who are trying to understand it!

If you are at a loss as to how to help your child manage anxiety, take the e-course Teach Your Kids to Crush Anxiety taught by a child therapist. Learn all the tools she teaches kids and teach them to your child. You don’t have to feel powerless.



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Books on Amazon about sensory processing:

8 responses to “What the Heck are Sensory Issues?”

  1. Amy Kelsch says:

    This is a wonderful post. You do a great job of explaining sometimes hard to understand terms. Thank you!

  2. steven spirn says:

    I have been reading Natasha’s blogs about toddlers with eagerness.
    Ms. Daniels has a very special way of explaining things from the point of view of the toddler, a fascinating idea that has great value. It allows us to expand our view of how toddlers see the world and live in it. This gives the reader the possibility of rethinking how they see these children and altering their behavior accordingly. It also offers the chance to
    talk in toddler terms which can be exciting.
    I often wonder how many of us get down on the floor and look up as might a toddler? it certainly is a radically different perspective of the world, and Ms. Daniels offers us that in her humorous, creative, fact filled and informative blogs.
    Reading her blog written in every day language with common sense suggestions is a
    wonderful treat.
    Ms. Daniels has an uncanny way of making our children more knowable and thus help us
    feel more on top of things and more aligned with how our children grow.
    There should be more Ms. Daniels in the world of child therapy.
    Steven Spirn, Child and Family therapist

  3. My Bored Toddler says:

    What a great article. I have worked with many children with sensory issues and it really is something that a lot of people don’t understand. It’s great to have an article to refer people to. Thanks for sharing on #ToddlerFunFriday

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Thanks for stopping by! I agree – I think it is an area that some people don’t fully understand.

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