What... (i.e. camp, dance class, birthday party)
Pick a NYMetroParents Region: All Regions   Manhattan    Brooklyn    Queens    Westchester    Rockland   Fairfield    Nassau    Suffolk  




     Home  >  Articles  > HOW TO GUIDES
by Jennifer Jo Brout, Psy.D.


Imagine if something as harmless as a song on the radio, the smell of pizza wafting from the oven, or somebody accidentally brushing against you readied you for a fight, and you could not flee nor calm down.  Imagine what a struggle it would be to stay composed and get through a day!

   My daughter, Lilly, suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD (formerly referred to as Sensory Integration Dysfunction) is an umbrella term describing different subtypes of a brain-based condition in which individuals process sensory information atypically. Lilly has problems modulating the intensity of sensory stimuli, and is over-responsive. This means that she reacts adversely to certain stimuli that others find harmless, or may not even notice. When she hears sounds such as the continued hum of an air conditioner or the repetitive tapping of a pencil, Lilly becomes so irritated that she eventually explodes or cries, or both.

   Atypical sensory processing may be a symptom of other developmental disorders such as Autism and Asperger’s, but it also exists independently.  Studies estimate that SPD affects at least five percent of school-age children in the United States. Yet because this disorder has been treated mainly within the field of occupational therapy, both the medical community and the public have very little information about it. As a result, over-responsive children are frequently misdiagnosed and are even prescribed medications that are wrong for them.

   Feeling continually bombarded by stimuli, SPD children experience unpredictable patterns of physiological over-arousal, anxious feelings, and mood instability. The resulting emotional dysregulation can impair a child’s functioning, causing even pleasurable activities such as play, school and family living to be difficult or unbearable. Because over-responsive children feel so “out of control” some react by seeking as much control as they can in particular environments, manifesting as bossiness or stubbornness.  Other children avoid situations that they fear and often appear withdrawn or anxious. Many children display characteristics of stubbornness, withdrawal and anxiety, and their reactions vary from context to context and over time. Due to the lack of general knowledge of the nature of this disorder, these children are often difficult to identify and understand.

   Many psychologists thought Lilly’s issues were behavioral, not physiological. Over-responsive children react with more intensity and are unable to calm down as quickly as others because the branch of the nervous system meant to subdue their responses takes longer to kick in. Lilly was not "behaving badly", but the perceptions of her behavior that is caused by her disorder are an ongoing challenge that can only be lessened by wider understanding of SPD.

Positive Solutions of NY: positivesolutionsny.com
The EMB Brout Sensory Processing and Emotion Regulation Program at Duke University: Dukescience.org
The SPD Foundation: KIDFoundation.org
Jennifer Jo Brout, Ed.M., Psy.D., of Scarsdale, is the mother of 13-year-old triplets and writes a quarterly column, Ask the School Psychologist.  She launched Positive Solutions of New York in 2006, and founded the EMB Brout Sensory Processing and Emotion Regulation Program at Duke University, where doctors study how sensory processing impacts mental health. Dr. Brout is on the Board of Directors at the SPD Foundation and the Advisory Board of Mothers of Supertwins (MOST). She is a parenting expert for iparenting.com. For more information, go to www.positivesolutionsny.com.

Be the smartest parent in the 'hood

Receive our weekly highlights newsletter · Over 1,000 local activities

More HOW TO GUIDES Articles

Three Tips for a Happier Holiday
How To Help Your Kids Succeed in Sports
How To Help Your Child Tackle Homework
How to Keep Kids Focused in School When Spring Fever Hits
How To Throw an 'Up' Birthday Party for Kids

Be a good fellow parent and share this with a friend who would be interested
Email Friend

Local HOW TO GUIDES Sponsors

Leonard E. Burket Christian School
34 Oak St.
Center Moriches, NY
It is our intention that the Leonard E. Burket Chr...

Eastern Jungle Gym
30 Commerce Dr.
Carmel, New York
We have been?Creating Childhood Memories? for 21 y...

Growing Tree Nursery School
140 E. Broadway
Roslyn, NY
Every day at the Growing Tree Nursery School is an...
Pelham Music Arts Studio
318 Fifth Ave
Pelham, New York

Mommy, Music, & Me, Inc
Offering Music Together® classes in Astoria, Bayside, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Little Neck, Long Island City and Whitestone
Queens, NY
For hundreds of thousands of families worldwide, (...
See Our HOW TO GUIDES Directory

local zones


Nassau cont.


Suffolk cont.


Westchester cont.



Rockland cont.


Queens cont.


Brooklyn cont.


Copyright 2015 NY Metro Parents Magazine Site Design: THE VOICE