“Don’t look now, but Luke is swinging,” Noelle said to her husband, as tears sprang into her eyes. For a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), whose senses are painfully heightened, swinging was a big deal. Five-year-old Luke had always refused to be on a swing, trampoline, or anything where he wasn’t in control of his movement. Now, after several months of specific chiropractic adjustments, Luke was comfortable enough to try something new.
Awareness about sensory issues has been on the rise in recent years, leading to a lot of questions for many parents about SPD. Basically, these are children (and adults) who have trouble processing the information their nervous system gives them.
It is important to note that SPD is not a psychological disorder, but a hardwired neurological and biological issue, a disconnect between the brain and nerves. The nerves are literally yelling at the brain that they are experiencing too much or not enough stimulation.
The brain shows signs of this disconnection with the nervous system in various ways. One of the early ones, is not crawling or not crawling properly on the hands and knees, in the neuro-typical cross-crawl pattern. This is because both sides of the brain must be equally balanced and coordinated for this cross-crawling motion to occur. It can also look like toe-walking or a child who has bad balance or poor spatial awareness.
As they grow older and other signs begin to show up, SPD kids are often categorized as sensory seekers and sensory avoiders.
This can include their touch, taste, sound, smell and sight, as well as their sense of body awareness and movement. SPD kids may have a meltdown because of a noise, are upset by a sunny day or are distracted by a smell too subtle for others to notice. They may only wear soft athletic wear or be defensive when touched. On the other hand, they may be eating the spiciest salsa, hanging upside down, chew on their clothes or toys, or be constantly touching others.
While many on the autism spectrum, with ADHD or Downs Syndrome may have sensory issues, a child can experience SPD without any other diagnosis.
What Can I Do About SPD?
If you identify with these signs for yourself or your child, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Upstate Specific Chiropractic for an evaluation. We have been able to help a growing number of our little friends in the last five years. The earlier sensory sensitivities are caught and action is taken, the sooner you will see positive progress.
A recent study in the Journal of Pediatric took a look at a three-year-old boy with SPD, speech delays and sleep issues. He received chiropractic care, with 36 visits over three months. Not only did he show improvement on thermography, but this little guy’s nervous system was functioning well enough to let him sleep peacefully 11-12 hours per night, three weeks in a row.
The body is beautifully, innately able to change; even our brains can reorganize and create new neural pathways with neuroplasticity. There is a lot that kids and adults with Sensory Processing Disorder can do to provide new and positive input to change their neurology.
Our first recommendation is to get adjusted. Just like a safety pin being closed to complete a circuit, the nervous system needs to be clear of interferences so that it can complete its circuit of information to the brain accurately. A specific, scientific chiropractic adjustment moves the vertebrae that have shifted and are putting pressure on the spinal cord, slowing or stopping this flow of information. The adjustment is itself a neuroplastic activity.
Neurological exercises provide something new and positive for the brain. These are something we use at Upstate Specific Chiropractic. Occupational therapists are another great resource for ways to add neuroplastic training.
If you would like to find out more information about the neuroscience of SPD, we suggest Dr. Robert Melillo’s book, Disconnected Kids. Dr. Melillo recommends an integrated, whole child approach including exercises and nutrition, and has Brain Balance Achievement Centers across the country to support with families, including Simpsonville, SC.
Take the first step toward getting your child’s nervous system communicating properly with a chiropractic adjustment. Dr. Megan Afshar is a chiropractor practicing in the Greenville, SC area, specializing in pregnancy and pediatric care. To schedule a free consultation, contact us here.