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Sensory processing issues

Sensory Processing Issues: What You’re Seeing in Your Middle-Schooler

By Erica Patino

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Sports and socializing ramp up during middle school—putting a spotlight on kids who are clumsy or awkward. The following signs are typical of sensory processing issues for children at this stage, but some may also occur with other issues like dyspraxia or ADHD.

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Sensory Processing Issues: What You’re Seeing in Your Middle-Schooler

Sensory processing issues can surface in a number of ways in middle school. And tweens may be self-aware enough to know how others perceive their behaviors. Here’s how that can play out.

Doesn’t Understand Personal Space
At home: Your child is constantly in his siblings’ faces—and won’t leave them alone when they ask him to stop.
At school: Your child stands too close to other kids or touches them when talking to them.
The issue: Kids with sensory processing issues can lack body awareness. They may not know when they’re standing too close.

Dislikes Sports
At home: Your child is awkward or afraid when playing catch.
At school: Your child dreads going to gym class and especially dislikes team sports.
The issue: Kids with sensory processing issues can find the bright lights and physical contact of sports overwhelming. They may also lack the motor skills to play well.

Struggles With Change
At home: Your child gets flustered when asked to try something new, like a new food at a restaurant.
At school: Your child gets lost easily when there’s a change in routine, such as reporting to a new classroom.
The issue: Kids with sensory processing issues can be overwhelmed by new settings and sensations.

Has Poor Self-Esteem
At home: Your child is afraid to try a new game with the family or invite other kids over to play.
At school: Your child doesn’t make friends easily and doesn’t want to join extracurricular groups.
The issue: Kids with sensory processing issues might be aware that others think they’re “weird.” This can make them feel self-conscious.
Graphic of Sensory processing issues: What you're seeing in your middle schooler
Graphic of Sensory processing issues: What you're seeing in your middle schooler

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About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

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Reviewed by Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D. Feb 14, 2014 Feb 14, 2014

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