Sensory processing issues

4 Common Myths About Sensory Processing Issues

By The Understood Team

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Sensory processing issues can be a confusing topic. Here are common myths about sensory processing issues and the facts that debunk them.

2.4kFound this helpful
young girl lying on the floor putting on her socks
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Myth #1: Kids with sensory processing issues are just being difficult.

Fact: Kids with sensory processing issues can be fussy and get angry for no apparent reason. For example, they might throw a fit or appear anxious in a noisy restaurant. Or they might refuse to wear certain clothing or brush their hair. This is usually the result of hypersensitivity to sound, touch and other senses, though, rather than an act of rebellion.

It might seem like kids with sensory processing issues are just trying to push buttons—especially if you’re a parent dealing with these behaviors every day. But they’re not. Learn about common triggers for kids with sensory processing issues.

young child climbing to the top of a bunk bed
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Myth #2: Kids with sensory processing issues are hypersensitive all the time.

Fact: Although being hypersensitive is a common sign of sensory processing issues, kids with these difficulties can also be hyposensitive (undersensitive). This means they may show little or no reaction to heat, cold, pain and other sensations.

This can be scary for parents. Kids with hyposensitivity might inadvertently find themselves in dangerous situations—like touching surfaces that could burn them. Remember, too, that this isn’t an either-or situation. Kids with sensory processing issues can be both hypo- and hypersensitive, going back and forth between the two behaviors.

young boy covering his ears in the classroom
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Myth #3: “Sensory processing issues” is just another name for ADHD.

Fact: They’re separate issues, but it’s common for kids to struggle with both. Sometimes parents notice sensory processing issues first, and that ultimately leads them to a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But it’s important to keep in mind that not every child with sensory processing issues has ADHD, and not every child with ADHD has sensory processing issues.

mother comforting her young daughter
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Myth #4: Sensory processing issues are a form of autism spectrum disorder.

Fact: Sensory processing issues are not a form of autism spectrum disorder. However, many kids with autism have sensory processing issues. But that doesn’t mean every child who’s overly sensitive to stimulation—like the sound of a vacuum cleaner or the feel of a scratchy sweater—has autism. Researchers are still trying to determine what causes sensory processing issues.

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8 Sensory-Friendly Indoor Games and Activities

Finding something to do when you’re stuck inside can be challenging for many kids. But for those with sensory processing issues, some activities work better than others. If your child gets overwhelmed by certain games, there are several options that can calm his overstimulated system.

Here are eight sensory-friendly games to help meet your child’s sensory needs.

Summertime Challenges for Kids With Sensory Processing Issues

Summer is a time for relaxing. But some of the sounds, smells and sensations that come with the fun can overwhelm kids with sensory processing issues. These tips can help your child manage challenges and enjoy the summer.

About the Author

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The Understood Team is composed of writers, editors and community moderators, many of whom have children with learning and attention issues.

Reviewed by

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Laura Tagliareni, Ph.D., is a pediatric neuropsychologist in New York City and a clinical instructor at NYU Langone Medical Center.

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