Sensory Modulation Disorder
What is Sensory Modulation Disorder?
Sensory modulation disorder is a type of sensory processing disorder (SPD). More specifically, sensory modulation disorder is a broad term for a category of sensory disorders that affect the regulation of sensory processing. People who have sensory modulation disorder will react to sensory inputs in ways that are often not proportional to the input itself. There are three subtypes of sensory modulation disorder: sensory over-responsivity, sensory under-responsivity, and sensory craving.
The first is sensory over-responsivity. This is a condition that leads to an individual perceiving non-painful stimuli as painful or irritating. In pediatrics, we would call a child with over-responsivity an “avoider,” because they go out of their way to avoid sensory stimulation — by covering their ears, hiding under their desk, or closing their eyes. The sensory input is too sensitive, and everything seems like too much for them. Children with this type of sensory modulation disorder may also be sensitive to bright lights or certain textures, such as specific foods or certain materials used in clothing.
The second subtype is under-responsivity. This condition presents as an individual underreacting or taking longer to respond to stimuli. This child is called the “disregarder,” as they will be unaware of their surroundings. This child won’t notice what’s going on around them — even if it’s extra loud, bright and colorful, or extreme in temperature. Their sensory input is muted, so they often seem uncaring or withdrawn. This lack of awareness of their surroundings can even lead to clumsiness. In reality, they just aren’t noticing what’s happening to their senses.
The third subtype is sensory craving. This condition presents as an individual actively seeking out sensations. This child is known as the “seeker,” or sometimes, the “bumper and crasher.” This child wants sensations, as many as possible, and is highly interested in bright lights, colors, sounds, smells, tastes, movement, and other outside stimuli. They’’ll be a daredevil, climbing to the highest branch or swinging the farthest on the tire swing, or even just crashing into things and people with little regard for safety. Their sensory input is never enough, and they always want more, more, more.
Sensory Modulation Disorder Diagnosis
If you notice any of the signs listed above, it’s possible your child has a sensory modulation disorder. However, you should consult with your pediatrician for an official diagnosis or with a pediatric occupational therapist for an official assessment. Getting a clear and accurate diagnosis is the first step toward getting the treatment necessary to help your child.
Sensory Modulation Disorder Treatment
As sensory modulation disorders can vary greatly from child to child, there are various approaches to treatment that are available. The main form of treatment centers around sensory integration therapy. For example, children may be assigned a sensory diet, which is a specially designed group of activities that are scheduled throughout the day to help children with their specific symptoms. For example, you may schedule out time to play with specific toys, listen to music, or do specific physical activities, depending on what their sensory needs are. An occupational therapist can help you design the right sensory diet for your child.
Treatment with Mind & Motion
If you think your child may have a sensory modulation disorder, Mind & Motion is here to help. Getting your child evaluated is the crucial first step toward helping them find the right treatment. Our team of experienced therapists offers a wide range of services for sensory modulation disorders, and will work together with you to ensure your child is getting the best treatment. Contact us today to learn more.