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What Are Sensory Processing Difficulties?

What Are Sensory Processing Difficulties?

I’m Lorraine from Sensooli and today we will explore what are sensory processing difficulties. Don’t worry I’ll be doing some more in-depth blogs and videos but let’s start here first.

What Are Sensory Processing Difficulties?

Sensory Processing Difficulties are when the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses.

1 in 20 people suffer from sensory processing difficulties and for 1 in 6 of those, it will affect their daily life.

Who Might Have Sensory Processing Difficulties?

People with developmental or neurological differences may also have sensory processing difficulties. Whilst it is common for autistic people to have sensory issues, not all autistic people will have issues with their senses and not all people who do will be autistic. Sensory Processing Difficulties are often seen alongside ADHD, Dyspraxia, Tourette’s, Anxiety, Attachment Disorder, Global Developmental Delay, Separation Anxiety, and PTSD.

What Senses Are We Talking About?

Would you be shocked if I told you we have 8 senses? Honestly, we do … but if you don’t have any difficulties with your senses you might not know about some of them.

The 5 we learn as children are Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, and smell.

There is Proprioception sometimes referred to as our 6th sense and this is the sense of spatial awareness and knowing where our limbs are in space.

Then we have Vestibular which is our balance and goes very closely alongside Proprioception.

Our 8th sense is Interoception and this is knowing what is going on inside our body.

We will go more into these senses in another blog … because if I do it now you’ll be here until next Christmas! If you want to read that blog all about the 8 senses it is here. 

Over Sensitive and Under Sensitive

People who struggle with sensory processing difficulties may be over-sensitive (known as hypersensitive) or under-sensitive (known as hyposensitive). Many people can be a mixture of both hypersensitive and hyposensitive and this can change depending on the environment, lack of sleep, stress, and anxiety.

People who are hypersensitive are known as avoiders. Avoiders are oversensitive to sensory input and they avoid sensory stimuli, so you may notice them covering their ears or hiding away from busy and noisy places. They may have a restricted diet and gag at smells. But it may not happen all the time, many external factors can influence how well we can respond to our body’s messages. So you may find one day its fine, but the next it is not. 

People who are hyposensitive are known as seekers. Seekers are under-sensitive to sensory input and therefore seek extra sensory stimuli. You may notice they enjoy rough play, and strong-smelling and tasting foods.

What Are The Common Signs Of Sensory Processing Difficulties?

There are lots of signs that someone has sensory processing difficulties. Some are more obvious than others and you may not always associate these signs with sensory processing and it may take time to put them all together. Here are some of the more obvious things you may see from someone with sensory processing difficulties:

  •  Covers ears
  •  Seeks out hugs and cuddles
  •  Doesn’t understand personal space
  • Has a limited diet
  •  Gags at smells
  •  Doesn’t like to be touched
  •  Often feels sick
  •  Frequent headaches
  • Chews clothes and toys
  • Might wear clothing inappropriate to the season

Other signs of sensory processing difficulties that might not be as obvious are:

  • Coordination difficulties
  • Often bumps into things
  • Has no spacial awareness
  • Struggles to engage in conversation and/or play
  • Don’t know if they are hungry or thirsty
  • May not know when they need to go to the toilet
  • Struggles to regulate their temperature
  • Experiences pain differently to others

You may notice someone with sensory processing difficulties can under or over-respond to the sensory information around them. They may also struggle with changes to their routine and environment. Everyone interprets their sensory messages differently so sensory processing difficulties can look very different from one person to the next.


That’s a brief overview of what sensory difficulties are, who may have sensory difficulties, and some of the signs of these difficulties.

If you think you or your child may have SPD then stick with us because we are going to help you understand your sensory difficulties and learn how you can help to manage them. We have so much more helpful information on our content hub.

If you want more support surrounding SPD, consider joining our Free Sensory Support Group on Facebook!

This is part of an SPD knowledge pack. If you are interested in reading the rest of it here: