26 Signs & Symptoms of Sensory Issues

sign of sensory issues in kids

Sensory issues can be really tricky to deal with, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Many times, people just assume that their child is ‘difficult’ or is just acting out.

Sometimes there may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed. If you’re concerned that your child may have a sensory issue, here are some common symptoms to look out for.

Symptoms of Sensory Issues

Signs & Symptoms of Sensory Issues:

  1. Excessive noise or movement
    Some children with sensory issues may become over-stimulated very easily. They will respond by making a lot of noise or moving around a lot.  They may also appear hyperactive or restless.
  2. Difficulty with focus or attention
    Children who have trouble with focus or attention may be dealing with sensory overloads. They may be unable to properly process the information they’re taking in.
  3. Poor coordination or balance
    Many children with sensory issues have trouble with coordination and balance. Furthermore, it can lead to problems with activities like climbing or running.
  4. Sensitivity to touch or textures
    Some children are very sensitive to touch or different textures. They can become overwhelmed if they are touched or come into contact with something that is uncomfortable for them.
  5. Avoidance of certain activities or situations
    A child who is avoiding certain activities or situations may be doing so because they are sensory-sensitive. Those things are too overwhelming or uncomfortable for them.
  6. Inability to tolerate certain foods or drinks
    Some children have trouble tolerating certain tastes or smells, and may reject foods or drinks that they find unpalatable.
  7. Excessive emotional reactions
    A child with sensory issues may have a lot of intense emotional reactions, such as crying, tantrums, or aggression. This is often because they are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to express what they’re feeling.
  8. Difficulty sleeping
    Many children with sensory issues have difficulty falling or staying asleep because the sensory stimulation can keep them up at night.
  9. Poor hygiene habits
    Children who have sensory issues may have difficulty keeping up with hygiene habits, such as brushing their teeth or taking a shower.
  10. Stammering or stuttering
    Often, children who have sensory issues will also struggle with speech, because they have difficulty coordinating the movement of their mouth and tongue.
  11. Constantly fidgeting
    Many children with sensory issues will fidget or move around constantly since it is a way to relieve the excess energy that they’re feeling.
  12. Trouble with social interactions
    Children who have sensory issues may have difficulty with social interactions because they find it hard to understand and respond to facial expressions and body language.
  13. Repetitive behaviors
    Children with sensory issues may engage in repetitive behaviors, such as spinning, twirling, or hand-flapping. This is often a way for them to try and make sense of the world around them.
  14. Difficulty with transitions
    Children who have sensory issues often have a hard time with transitions. This is because they need more time to adjust to change.
  15. Poor self-awareness
    Children who have sensory issues often have a poor sense of what they’re feeling. They may not be able to identify when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
  16. Low frustration tolerance
    Children who have sensory issues often have a low frustration tolerance. They can’t handle when things don’t go their way.
  17. Sensory seeking behaviors
    Children who have sensory issues may engage in sensory seeking behaviors, such as chewing on pencils, or hopping up and down.
  18. Poor attention span
    Children who have sensory issues often have a poor attention span because they find it difficult to focus on one task for an extended period of time.
  19. Trouble with handwriting
    Many children with sensory issues have trouble with handwriting, because they can’t control their muscles correctly.
  20. Sensitivity to light or sound
    Some children are sensitive to light or sound therefore they may find it difficult to be in a bright or noisy environment.
  21. Clinging to familiar objects or people
    Children who have sensory issues often cling to familiar objects or people, as a way to feel safe and secure.
  22. Low self-esteem
    Children who have sensory issues often have low self-esteem, because they feel like they’re different from everyone else.
  23. Poor motor skills
    Many children with sensory issues have poor motor skills. They may experience some difficulty controlling their movements.
  24. Daydreaming a lot
    Children who have sensory issues may daydream a lot. It is a way to distract themselves from the overwhelming sensations that they’re feeling.
  25. Anxiety or depression
    Children who have sensory issues may experience anxiety or depression since they feel like they can’t do anything to change their situation.
  26. Low tolerance for hair brushing or nail clipping
    Some children with sensory issues have a low tolerance for hair brushing or nail clipping since the sensations are too overwhelming for them.

What do I do if I recognize my child?

Seeing a few of these symptoms in your child doesn’t necessarily mean that they have an underlying sensory issue. However, if you’re concerned, there are a few things you can do to help.

First, talk to your pediatrician.  Early diagnosis and treatment can be very helpful in managing these issues. They may refer you to a therapist or specialist who can help diagnose and treat the issue.

Secondly, you can try to create a sensory-rich environment for your child. Give them lots of opportunities to explore their senses with activities like painting or playing in the sensory bin. See how you could also make a sensory room at home.

And finally, be patient and understanding. It can be difficult for children with sensory issues. They need your support to help them navigate the world.

Can normal kids have sensory issues?

Yes, normal kids can have sensory issues. One in six kids has a sensory issue. Be aware that it’s not always easy to identify them because they may not look or behave differently from other kids.

Can a child have sensory issues and not be autistic?

Yes, a child can have sensory issues and not be autistic. Sensory issues are common in kids with autism, but they also occur in kids who don’t have autism.  Some kids with ADHD, OCD, developmental delays or even kids without any diagnosis can have sensory issues.

Do sensory issues get worst or better with age?

To be honest, there is no definitive answer to this question as each child’s experience with sensory issues is unique. In addition, many children find that their symptoms improve or get better as they get older. This may be because they learn how to better cope with and manage their sensations. But it’s important to note that every child is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Can sensory play help my child with sensory issues?

Yes, sensory play can be a great way to help children with sensory issues. Sensory play allows children to explore their senses in a fun and safe environment. This kind of play can help them learn how to tolerate and process new sensations, which can be difficult for kids with sensory issues. You can find lots of ideas for sensory play on our blog or by following our Fun Sensory Play Facebook Page.

What is a visual sensory break schedule?

Although sensory issues can be challenging for all, with the right tools in place they can be managed successfully.  We suggest you consider some activities to help your child self-regulate.  Remember, it takes time and patience to find what works best for each individual child. Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work immediately. Keep exploring and have fun finding new ways to help your little one thrive!

Please note: that this is not intended to be medical advice. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, please consult with a doctor or occupational therapist.

Other resources you may enjoy:

Easy Sensory Activities for Kids
20 Self-Regulating Activities for Kids
How to make a sensory room

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