In this post you will learn about a sensory processing disorder checklist for children, teens, and adults.

Every aspect of our lives relies on our ability to process sensory information. For example, if you touch boiling water, your sense of touch signals your brain that it's hot, and your brain instructs your muscles to move your hand away to prevent injury.

However, for someone with sensory processing disorder (SPD), their brain might misinterpret the information.

Before going over the sensory processing disorder checklist, let's understand SPD and how to use the list.

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

SPD is a condition that affects the way the brain receives and interprets sensory information. Someone struggling with sensory dysfunction may be over or under-responsive to stimuli. This can interfere with their daily life.

If you think you or someone you know has SPD, you can assess for potential signs and consult an expert for a professional diagnosis. 

With proper help, anyone experiencing SPD can overcome the challenges associated with the condition and improve the quality of their personal and social lives.

That's why I compiled this sensory processing disorder checklist. Use it as a tool to identify areas of difficulty in sensory processing and seek help. 

It's useful for both parents and professionals working with affected individuals. 

What You Should Know Before Using the Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist

People don't experience SPD the same way. Everyone experiencing this condition has their own unique sensory profile

Someone with sensory dysfunction doesn't have to exhibit all the potential symptoms of PSD. 

As you go through the list, here's what you should pay attention to:

Don't take it lightly if you nod yes to several of the red flags in this checklist. Instead, use it as a basis to talk to a doctor or an Occupational Therapist.

I also have a comprehensive Teen Sensory Processing Guide eBook that I highly recommend you go over. It will guide you on how to help your teenager navigate their sensory needs and lead a more independent life successfully.

Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist

There are 8 sensory systems we will take a look at with this checklist.

  • Tactile: This is your touch sensory system.
  • Vestibular: This is your body's balance and orientation to space with movement.
  • Proprioceptive: This is your body's internal sense of movement.
  • Gustatory: This is your body's sense of smell.
  • Olfactory: This is your body's sense of taste.
  • Auditory: This is your body's sense of hearing.
  • Vision: This is your body's sense of sight.
  • Interception: This is your body's sense of internal body awareness. This tells us if we are feeling sick to our stomach, we are hungry, thirsty, or if we have to use the restroom as examples.

Signs of Tactile Dysfunction (Touch)

1. Tactile Defensiveness (Hypersensitivity to Touch)

  • Avoidance of Touch: The individual might avoid physical contact, or they might pull away or become distressed when touched.
  • Discomfort with Certain Textures: They might be uncomfortable with specific textures, either in clothing, food, or other materials.
  • Distress during Grooming Activities: They might resist or become upset during grooming activities, such as hair brushing, teeth brushing, or bathing.
  • Preference for Certain Clothing: They might insist on wearing certain types of clothing and refuse to wear others based on how they feel.
  • Distress with Messy Play: They may avoid or become distressed with messy play, such as playing with sand, clay, or finger paint.
  • Avoidance of Certain Foods: They may avoid foods with certain textures, leading to a restricted diet.
  • Overreaction to Minor Cuts or Scrapes: They might react strongly to minor injuries or discomforts, like small cuts, scrapes, or bug bites.
  • Difficulty with Clothing Tags or Seams: They might be bothered by clothing tags or seams and might prefer tagless clothing or clothing without seams.
  • Discomfort with Shoes or Socks: They might have difficulty wearing shoes or socks, or they might prefer to go barefoot.
  • Overwhelm in Crowded Places: They may become distressed or overwhelmed in crowded places due to accidental brushes or touches.
  • Dislikes hair brushing or is picky about brushes
  • Uncomfortable with face washing and teeth brushing
  • Finds raindrops, shower water, or wind on skin unbearable
  • Overreacts to minor cuts, scrapes, or bug bites
  • Refuses to walk barefoot on grass or sand
  • Avoids touching certain textures (blankets and rugs)
  • Resists friendly or affectionate touch
  • Prefers hugs over other types of touch
  • Avoids group situations due to fear of unexpected touch
  • Frequently wipes or washes hands due to discomfort with dirt
  • Extremely ticklish

2. Under-Responsive (Hyposensitivity to Touch)

  • Unaware of Touch: The individual might not notice when they're being touched or may not respond to physical contact.
  • High Pain Tolerance: They might not seem to notice injuries, or may have a higher tolerance for pain than others.
  • Difficulty with Fine Motor Skills: They may have trouble with tasks requiring tactile perception, like buttoning clothes, tying shoelaces, or manipulating small objects.
  • Not Realizing Hands or Face are Dirty: They might not notice when their hands or face are dirty or messy.
  • May Not Notice Temperature: They might not react to hot or cold temperatures that would be uncomfortable to others, potentially putting them at risk of harm.
  • Craving for Physical Contact: They might frequently seek out physical contact, or enjoy activities that provide strong tactile input, like wrestling or burrowing under heavy blankets.
  • Difficulty Judging Pressure: They may use too much or too little pressure when writing, drawing, or interacting with others.
  • Frequent Mouthing of Objects: They might frequently chew or bite on objects, clothing, or themselves, possibly to gain more sensory input.
  • Not Mindful of Clothing Tags or Seams: They may not be bothered by clothing tags or seams that might irritate others.
  • Disinterest in Textured Objects or Surfaces: They might show little interest in objects or surfaces with different or interesting textures that might fascinate others.
  • May touch everything and everyone
  • Seeks out soothing surfaces or objects
  • Shows no distress with injuries or shots
  • May hurt others during play
  • May exhibit self-abusive behaviors
  • Seeks out textures that provide strong tactile feedback
  • May not be aware of dirt or runny nose
  • May not notice being touched unless it's done forcefully

3. Poor Tactile Perception and Discrimination

  • Difficulty Identifying Objects by Touch: The individual may struggle to identify objects without looking at them, just by feeling with their hands.
  • Difficulty with Fine Motor Skills: They might struggle with tasks that require tactile perception, like buttoning a shirt, tying shoelaces, or handwriting.
  • Clumsiness: They might often drop objects or bump into things due to a poor sense of their body in relation to their surroundings.
  • Difficulty with Tasks Requiring Hand-Eye Coordination: Tasks like catching a ball, using scissors, or playing video games might pose a challenge.
  • Difficulty Distinguishing Between Similar Objects: They may struggle to distinguish between similar objects by touch alone, like differentiating coins.
  • Difficulty Judging Pressure: They might use too much or too little pressure when writing, drawing, or interacting with others, which can lead to accidentally hurting someone or breaking things.
  • Struggle with Textured Materials: They may have difficulty identifying or tolerating different textures, affecting their choices of clothing, food, or other items.
  • Discomfort with Grooming Activities: They might resist or become distressed during grooming activities, like brushing teeth or hair, due to heightened sensitivity or difficulty perceiving tactile input.
  • Difficulty with Tasks Involving Dexterity: They may struggle with tasks that require dexterity, like assembling puzzles or manipulating small objects.
  • Difficulty with Activities Requiring Body Awareness: They might struggle with activities that require body awareness, such as yoga or dance.
  • Fearful of the dark
  • Struggles with tasks like dressing themselves
  • May not recognize where they were touched if they didn't see it happen
  • Struggles with using scissors, crayons, and utensils
  • Difficulty understanding physical characteristics of objects like shape, size, texture, temperature, weight, etc.
  • Unable to identify objects by feel and relies on vision to retrieve items from a backpack

Signs of Vestibular Dysfunction (Movement)

1. Over-Responsive: Hypersensitivity to Movement

  • Fear of Movement: The individual may be afraid of activities that involve movement, such as swinging, sliding, or riding in a car.
  • Nausea or Dizziness: They may often feel sick or dizzy, particularly during or after movement.
  • Difficulty with Changes in Head Position: They might get upset or disoriented if their head position changes, like when bending over or lying down.
  • Avoidance of Fast Movements or Spinning: Activities that involve quick movements or spinning might be distressing or disorienting.
  • Fear of Heights: They might have a heightened fear of heights or places where the ground is uneven.
  • Clingy Behavior: They might frequently seek support or cling to people or objects, possibly due to a fear of falling.
  • Difficulty with Balance: They may struggle to maintain balance during activities like walking on uneven surfaces or riding a bike.
  • Resistance to Lying Flat: They might resist lying flat without a pillow, possibly due to discomfort when their head is not upright.
  • Motion Sickness: They may frequently experience motion sickness during car rides or other forms of transportation.
  • Trouble with Coordination: They may show difficulties coordinating their body movements, as the vestibular system plays a critical role in coordination.
  • Avoidance of Physical Activity: They may avoid or resist physical activities or sports, particularly those that involve a lot of movement or changes in position.
  • Has an intense fear of falling
  • Prefers sedentary activities, moves slowly and cautiously, and avoids taking risks
  • Fearful of heights and of feet leaving the ground
  • Dislikes elevators and escalators and may feel motion sickness
  • Avoids stairs and uneven surfaces
  • Fearful of riding a bike, jumping, hopping, or balancing on one foot
  • Loses balance easily and appears clumsy
  • Avoids activities that require good balance

2. Under-Responsive: Hyposensitivity to Movement

  • Craving for Movement: The individual may constantly seek out movement, such as spinning, swinging, or bouncing.
  • High Energy Levels: They might seem to have an inexhaustible amount of energy, and rarely sit still.
  • Difficulty Sitting Still: They may struggle to sit quietly, often fidgeting or squirming.
  • Frequent Spinning or Twirling: They may enjoy activities that involve spinning or twirling and do not get dizzy easily.
  • Love for High-Speed Activities: They might prefer fast-paced or high-risk activities, like roller coasters or jumping from high places.
  • Difficulty with Balance: They might have difficulty maintaining balance, particularly with their eyes closed, due to an under-responsive vestibular system.
  • Problems with Coordination: They may appear clumsy or have trouble coordinating their movements, which could affect their ability to participate in sports or activities that require precision.
  • Frequent Rocking or Swaying: They might often rock or sway, even when standing or sitting, possibly seeking additional vestibular input.
  • Difficulty Maintaining Focus: They may struggle to focus or pay attention, particularly when they are not allowed to move.
  • Difficulty Understanding Body Position: They may struggle with understanding where their body is in space, leading to potential clumsiness or frequent bumping into things.
  • Low Muscle Tone: They might appear floppy or have difficulty maintaining posture due to reduced muscle tone.
  • Craves intense and fast movements, including spinning experiences
  • Prefers running, jumping, or hopping instead of walking
  • Enjoys sudden or quick movements, such as going over bumps in a car or on a bike
  • Seeks out risky experiences
  • Constantly in motion and has difficulty staying still
  • Engages in body movements like rocking, leg shaking, or nodding while sitting

3. Poor Muscle Tone or Coordination

  • Low Muscle Tone: The individual might seem floppy or loose, struggling to maintain postures or hold up their head.
  • Poor Posture: They might often slouch or lean on objects for support due to reduced muscle strength.
  • Difficulty with Balance: They might struggle with balance while standing or walking, particularly on uneven surfaces or with their eyes closed.
  • Clumsiness: They might frequently bump into things or trip and fall, appearing uncoordinated.
  • Trouble with Fine Motor Skills: Tasks requiring precision, like using scissors or fastening buttons, might be challenging due to poor hand-eye coordination.
  • Difficulty with Gross Motor Skills: They may struggle with whole-body movements, such as running, jumping, or riding a bike, due to poor body coordination.
  • Difficulty Learning New Physical Tasks: They may find it hard to learn new motor skills, like a dance routine or a new sport, as these require coordination and balance.
  • Struggling with Sequential Tasks: Tasks that require a sequence of movements, like climbing stairs or getting dressed, might be challenging due to poor body coordination.
  • Tendency to Prop Themselves: They may frequently prop themselves up against walls or furniture when standing or sitting.
  • Difficulty with Rhythmic Movements: They may struggle with rhythmic activities, like skipping, dancing, or swinging a bat.
  • Frequent Fatigue: They might tire easily during physical activity due to reduced muscle endurance.
  • Fatigues easily
  • Has difficulty turning door knobs and handles and opening and closing items
  • Has difficulty catching themselves if they fall
  • Has poor body awareness and frequently bumps into things, knocks things over, trips, or appears clumsy
  • Has a limp, “floppy” body
  • Has difficulty learning exercise or dance steps

Signs of Proprioceptive Dysfunction

1. Sensory Seeking Behaviors

  • Craving for Rough Play: The individual might constantly seek out rough play, like wrestling or jumping.
  • Frequent Physical Contact: They may crave physical contact and not understand personal space boundaries.
  • Excessive Jumping, Bouncing, or Spinning: They may frequently engage in activities that involve intense body movements.
  • High Pain Tolerance: They might not seem to notice injuries or may have a higher tolerance for pain than others.
  • Difficulty Sitting Still: They may find it hard to stay still and may constantly fidget or move around.
  • Heavy-Handedness: They might often break objects, not knowing their own strength or not realizing how hard they're pressing or pushing.
  • Craving for Tight Clothing or Swaddling: They might prefer tight clothing or enjoy being swaddled or wrapped tightly in blankets.
  • Frequent Stomping or Loud Footsteps: They might walk or run heavily, making a lot of noise with their feet.
  • Difficulty Understanding Body Position: They may seem clumsy, bump into things, or have difficulty coordinating their body in space.
  • Preference for Chewing or Biting: They might frequently chew or bite on objects, clothing, or themselves.
  • Excessive Throwing or Slamming of Objects: They might often throw things, slam doors, or make other loud noises.
  • Frequent Pushing or Leaning Against People or Objects: They may often lean against walls, doors, or other people, seeking the sensory input.
  • Seeks out activities involving jumping, bumping, and crashing
  • Kicks feet on the floor or chair while sitting at a desk or table
  • Bites or sucks fingers and objects
  • Prefers tight clothes, belts, hoods, and shoelaces
  • Loves to receive bear hugs
  • Grinds teeth throughout the day
  • Loves pushing, pulling, and dragging objects
  • Frequently hits, bumps, or pushes other teens
  • Chews on pens, straws, shirt sleeves, etc.

2. Difficulty With Movement

  • Clumsiness: They might appear uncoordinated and clumsy, frequently bumping into things or falling.
  • Difficulty Grading Movement: They might use too much or too little force when picking up objects, writing, or interacting with others, leading to objects being dropped or broken, or others being accidentally hurt.
  • Difficulty with Fine Motor Skills: Tasks that require precision, like buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces, could be challenging.
  • Struggling with Gross Motor Skills: They may have difficulty with tasks that require whole body movement, like jumping, running, or climbing stairs.
  • Problems with Balance: They might have difficulty maintaining balance while standing or walking, particularly with their eyes closed.
  • Difficulty Navigating Spaces: They may struggle to move through crowded or narrow spaces and might frequently bump into things.
  • Trouble Learning New Physical Activities: They might have a hard time learning new motor tasks, like riding a bike or playing a new sport.
  • Difficulty with Sequencing Movements: Tasks that require a series of movements, like doing a dance routine or getting dressed, could pose a challenge.
  • Poor Posture: They might frequently slouch or lean on things for support.
  • Difficulty Judging Distances: They might struggle to judge distances accurately, which could affect their ability to catch a ball or use the stairs.
  • Difficulty Discerning Right from Left: They might struggle with discerning right from left, which can affect coordination.
  • Difficulty with Depth Perception: They might struggle to perceive depth accurately, affecting activities like sports or even navigating steps.
  • Has difficulty knowing how much to move muscles when doing tasks
  • Struggles with controlling writing/drawing pressure, making it too light or too hard
  • Misjudges the weight of objects
  • Does everything with too much force, such as walking, slamming doors, or pressing things too hard

Signs of Olfactory Dysfunction (Sense of Smell) 

1. Hypersensitivity to Smells (Over-Responsive)

  • Increased Sensitivity to Smell: The person is more sensitive to smells than is typical. Even faint smells might be perceived as overpowering or unpleasant.
  • Distorted Perception of Smell (Parosmia): Normal smells are perceived differently than they used to, often with a distorted or unpleasant interpretation.
  • Unpleasant Perception of Smell (Cacosmia): This is a specific form of parosmia where all smells are perceived as repugnant or foul, regardless of their actual odor.
  • Phantom Smells (Phantosmia): The person senses smells that aren't present in their environment.
  • Headaches: Some individuals may experience headaches as a result of being exposed to certain smells.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Strong or particular smells can trigger feelings of nausea or even lead to vomiting.
  • Difficulty Eating: Due to the heightened sensitivity or altered perception of smell, individuals may have a hard time eating, as the smell of food may be overpowering or unappetizing.
  • Anxiety or Panic Attacks: If the hypersensitivity to smells is severe, it could trigger anxiety or panic attacks, particularly in environments with strong or numerous odors.
  • Avoidance of Social or Public Places: Individuals may begin to avoid places where there is a likelihood of encountering strong or numerous smells.
  • Impaired Ability to Identify Smells: Despite the hypersensitivity, there might also be difficulty in correctly identifying specific odors.
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness: In some cases, exposure to certain smells could lead to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Respiratory Symptoms: Hypersensitivity to smells may also induce respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, or difficulty breathing
  • Refuses to eat certain foods due to their smell
  • May be bothered by strong cooking or household smells

2. Hyposensitivity to Smells (Under-Responsive)

  • Decreased Sensitivity to Smell: The person may have difficulty noticing smells that others can easily perceive.
  • Impaired Ability to Identify Smells: Despite the presence of smells, the individual might have trouble identifying them correctly.
  • Inability to Detect Danger Signals: A person with olfactory dysfunction might fail to notice potentially dangerous smells such as gas leaks, fire, or spoiled food.
  • Reduced Taste Sensation: As smell is closely linked to taste, a reduced ability to smell can often lead to a diminished sense of taste or changes in food preferences.
  • Unintentional Ignoring of Personal Hygiene: Individuals may neglect their personal hygiene as they cannot perceive their own body odor or the smell of their surroundings.
  • Difficulty Eating: This can be due to not being able to fully enjoy the taste of food, as the flavor of food is largely determined by its smell.
  • Lack of Interest in Cooking or Eating: Without the ability to smell food, cooking and eating can lose much of their appeal.
  • Decreased Enjoyment of Pleasurable Scents: Individuals may miss out on the joy or comfort that certain scents, like the smell of fresh flowers or baked goods, typically provide.
  • Lack of Emotional Response to Smell: Smells can often trigger memories or emotions, and a lack of sensitivity to smell might impair this connection.
  • Lack of Awareness About Environmental Changes: People with hyposensitivity might not notice changes in their environment that are linked to smell, such as a new fragrance in the room.
  • Frequently Asking Others to Confirm Smells: Due to a reduced sense of smell, individuals may often ask others to verify or identify smells for them.
  • Has trouble telling apart bad smells
  • Uses smell as a way to interact with objects
  • May eat or drink things with harmful odors since they don't sense the smell
  • Unable to identify scents from scratch-and-sniff items
  • Ignores or doesn't register unpleasant smells

Signs of Auditory Processing Dysfunction (Sounds)

1. Hypersensitivity to Sounds (Auditory Defensiveness)

  • Heightened Reaction to Sounds: The person reacts strongly or negatively to sounds that others find tolerable or even pleasant.
  • Frequent Ear Covering: They often cover their ears to shield themselves from sound.
  • Avoidance of Noisy Environments: Individuals might avoid places with a lot of noise, such as shopping malls, restaurants, or busy streets.
  • Anxiety or Fear Responses: They might display signs of fear or anxiety in response to certain sounds.
  • Irritability or Agitation: There could be signs of irritability or agitation when exposed to specific noises.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: They may have trouble focusing or concentrating when there is background noise.
  • Discomfort with Everyday Sounds: Everyday sounds, like the vacuum cleaner, a ringing phone, or even someone chewing, could cause distress.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: They might have trouble sleeping due to environmental noises that others might not even notice.
  • Physical Discomfort or Pain: In severe cases, certain sounds could lead to physical discomfort or pain in the ears.
  • Withdrawal from Social Activities: To avoid potentially distressing noises, the individual might pull back from social activities or outings.
  • Frequent Use of Headphones or Earplugs: They might often use headphones or earplugs to reduce the volume of their environment.
  • Panic Attacks: In extreme cases, certain sounds could trigger a panic attack
  • Bothered by background noises (for instance, lawn mowing or outside construction)
  • Asks people to be quiet frequently
  • Refuses to go to places like movie theaters, parades, skating rinks, or musical concerts
  • Gets easily distracted by sounds others may not notice, such as the humming of appliances or ticking clocks
  • Fearful of certain sounds, such as a flushing toilet, hairdryer, or dog barking
  • Gets startled by loud or unexpected noises

2. Hyposensitivity to Sounds (Under-Registers)

  • Lack of Response to Sounds: The person may not respond to sounds that others usually notice, such as their name being called or a phone ringing.
  • Difficulty Following Verbal Instructions: They may have trouble understanding or following verbal directions, especially if there's background noise.
  • Inattentiveness: They might seem to zone out or appear distracted, particularly in noisy environments.
  • High Tolerance for Loud Noises: Individuals may not be bothered by loud sounds that others find uncomfortable or overwhelming, like sirens or loud music.
  • Fascination with Sounds and Noise: Some individuals may show a heightened interest in sounds and may enjoy making noise.
  • Frequent Requests for Repetition: They might often ask others to repeat what they've said, even in quiet environments.
  • Difficulty with Speech and Language Development: Children with auditory hyposensitivity may have delayed or impaired speech and language development.
  • Difficulty Locating the Source of a Sound: They may struggle to identify where a sound is coming from.
  • Preference for Loud Volume: They might prefer to listen to music, watch TV, or play games at a volume that others find uncomfortably loud.
  • Limited Reaction to Surprising or Sudden Noises: Sounds that would usually startle or surprise people might not elicit a strong reaction.
  • Talks to self through a task, often out loud.
  • Doesn’t respond to verbal cues or name being called
  • Enjoys excessively loud music or TV
  • Has difficulty understanding or remembering what was said
  • Appears confused about where a sound is coming from
  • Requires frequent repetition of directions

Signs of Visual Processing Dysfunction

1. Hyper-Responsiveness to Visual Sensation (Over-Responsiveness or Overreaction)

  • Difficulty with Bright Lights: They may find bright lights, such as sunlight or fluorescent lighting, to be overwhelming or painful.
  • Distress in Busy Visual Environments: Crowded places or environments with lots of visual stimuli (such as busy wallpapers, cluttered rooms) can cause distress.
  • Difficulty Making Eye Contact: They might avoid making eye contact due to it being uncomfortable or overwhelming.
  • Problems with Fast-Moving or Flashing Images: Quick or flashing images, such as those on TV or computer screens, might be disturbing.
  • Fascination with or Distress from Certain Colors or Patterns: They may be strongly attracted to or distressed by certain colors or patterns.
  • Difficulty with Reading or Writing: Words on a page may seem to move or blend together, making reading or writing challenging.
  • Avoidance of Visual Tasks: They might avoid tasks that require a lot of visual focus, such as puzzles or fine motor activities.
  • Frequent Squinting or Covering Eyes: They may often squint or cover their eyes to block out too much light or visual input.
  • Problems with Visual Discrimination: They might struggle to distinguish between similar-looking objects or struggle to find an object when it's among others.
  • Discomfort with Direct Light: They might be bothered by direct light, such as sunlight or a desk lamp, more than others.
  • Frequent Headaches: They may experience frequent headaches, possibly from eye strain or overexposure to certain visual stimuli.
  • Can’t tolerate specific lighting like fluorescent overhead lights
  • Struggles with puzzles and gets frustrated at the movies
  • Difficulty reading
  • Struggles with sudden changes in lighting and bright or flashing lights
  • Complains of headaches and discomfort in bright light or colorful lighting

2. Hypo-Responsiveness

  • Lack of Response to Visual Stimuli: They may not react to visual stimuli that others usually notice, like a new item in their environment or someone waving at them.
  • Difficulty Following Visual Directions: They might struggle with tasks that require visual attention, like copying from a board or following a map.
  • Trouble Recognizing Faces: They may have difficulty recognizing people, especially if they aren't very familiar or if they've changed their appearance.
  • Problems with Visual Discrimination: They might struggle to distinguish between similar-looking objects or struggle to find an object when it's among others.
  • Little Reaction to Bright Lights: Bright or flashing lights might not bother them as much as they would typically bother others.
  • Limited Eye Contact: They might not make much eye contact, but this may be due to a lack of noticing or interpreting visual cues rather than discomfort.
  • Difficulty with Reading or Writing: They might struggle to see the words on a page clearly, making reading or writing challenging.
  • Difficulty Navigating in Low Light: They may have trouble seeing in low-light conditions that others can navigate easily.
  • Frequently Bumping into Things: They might often bump into objects or people, suggesting a problem with spatial awareness or depth perception.
  • Difficulty with Tasks that Require Visual Coordination: Tasks such as catching a ball, tying shoelaces, or coloring within lines might pose a challenge.
  • May waves hands or objects in front of eyes
  • May be drawn to light up spinning objects
  • Struggles to understand what they see
  • Struggles with eye-hand coordination
  • Struggles to watch movies without discomfort
  • Has difficulty with reading and writing tasks

Signs of Gustatory Dysfunction (Sense of Taste)

1. Hypersensitivity to Oral Senses (Over-Responsiveness or Overreaction)

  • Picky Eating: They might be very selective with food, accepting only a limited range of food types and textures.
  • Distress at Toothbrushing: They may find toothbrushing uncomfortable or distressing due to the sensation of the toothbrush in the mouth.
  • Difficulty with New Foods: They might resist trying new foods, especially if they have different textures or temperatures.
  • Gagging on Certain Textures: Certain food textures might cause them to gag or choke.
  • Avoidance of Hot or Cold Foods: They may prefer foods at room temperature and avoid hot or cold foods due to sensitivity.
  • Difficulty with Dental Visits: The sensations associated with dental procedures may be uncomfortable or cause distress.
  • Overreaction to Mild Oral Discomfort: They might have an exaggerated response to small oral injuries or discomforts, such as a loose tooth or a small cut in the mouth.
  • Avoidance of Certain Utensils: They may prefer certain utensils over others due to the way they feel in their mouth.
  • Difficulty Wearing Orthodontic Appliances: They might struggle to tolerate braces, retainers, or other orthodontic appliances due to increased oral sensitivity.
  • Struggle with Certain Clothing Textures: They might be bothered by certain clothing textures or tags against their skin, which can reflect general sensory over-responsiveness.
  • Discomfort during teeth brushing
  • Intolerant to temperature extremes, such as hot or cold foods
  • Dislikes mixed textured foods, such chunky soup
  • Resists trying new foods and avoids certain textures
  • Has specific food or drink temperature preferences
  • Uses only specific utensils, such as a particular spoon or fork, or no utensil at all
  • Feels anxious when presented with new foods

2. Hypo-Responsiveness

  • Mouthing Objects: They might frequently mouth or chew on non-food objects, as they may seek oral input due to decreased sensitivity.
  • Overstuffing Mouth with Food: They may put more food in their mouth than is typical or safe, potentially due to a decreased sense of how much food is already in their mouth.
  • High Tolerance for Spicy Foods: They might enjoy eating spicy or intensely flavored foods that others might find overwhelming.
  • Difficulty with Chewing or Swallowing: There might be issues with processing and manipulating food in the mouth due to decreased oral sensitivity.
  • Frequent Drooling: They may drool frequently, possibly because they aren't as aware of the saliva in their mouth.
  • Little Reaction to Oral Injuries: They might not react much to oral injuries, like biting their tongue or cheek, due to decreased sensitivity.
  • Difficulty with Speech: They may struggle with articulation or other aspects of speech, possibly due to decreased oral awareness.
  • Preference for Textured Foods: They might prefer foods with a lot of texture, such as crunchy or chewy foods, as these provide more oral feedback.
  • Insensitivity to Temperature: They might not be as bothered by extremely hot or cold foods or drinks as others typically are.
  • Chewing on Clothing or Body Parts: They may often chew on their clothing, fingers, or other body parts, seeking oral stimulation.
  • Licking objects
  • Stuffs food into cheeks
  • Chews on clothing
  • Prefers spicy foods
  • Hums all the time
  • Prefers a vibrating toothbrush
  • Bites others

Signs of Interoception Dysfunction (internal sense in the body)

Interoception refers to our ability to sense what's going on inside our body, helping us to feel and understand internal signals like hunger, thirst, heart rate, and bowel or bladder urgency.

  • Difficulty Recognizing Hunger or Thirst: The individual might not realize when they are hungry or thirsty, potentially leading to skipped meals or dehydration.
  • Unaware of Body Temperature: They might not notice when they're too hot or too cold, which can lead to discomfort or potential health risks.
  • Inconsistent Recognition of Bathroom Needs: They may struggle to realize when they need to go to the bathroom, leading to accidents.
  • Overeating or Under-eating: They might eat too much or too little due to a lack of recognition of the feeling of fullness or hunger.
  • Difficulty Identifying Feelings: They may struggle to identify and express their feelings as interoception is closely linked to emotional self-awareness.
  • Unaware of Heart Rate Increases: They might not notice when their heart rate increases due to stress or physical exertion.
  • Difficulty Recognizing Fatigue: They may struggle to identify when they're tired, leading to overexertion or lack of rest.
  • Unaware of Physical Health Issues: They might not notice symptoms of illness or injury, such as a sore throat, headache, or a sprained ankle.
  • Difficulty Regulating Breathing: They may struggle to regulate their breathing during physical activity or stressful situations, not recognizing when they need to slow their breaths down.
  • Difficulty with Self-Regulation: They may have a hard time with self-regulation, including managing their behavior, attention, and emotions.

What's Next?

As a parent or professional handling a teenager or adult with SPD, your commitment to helping them can make a big difference in the quality of their lives. And with the right resources, you can do it!SPD is common in people with autism spectrum disorder. Have an autistic teenager? Get my Mega Bundle of Functional Life Skills Resources for Teens and Adults and feel confident in guiding them to a more fulfilling life.

Sensory processing disorder checklist