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Sensory Processing Disorder & Sensitivity Differences


Bright children experience their world with a heightened sensitivity, awareness and intensity.  Sensory sensitivities are common and in most cases do not limit a child’s ability to participate in meaningful life experiences.  Bright children often experience the following sensitivities to their environment and may be misdiagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.

  • Deep appreciation of beauty:  A meaningful experience of writing, music, art or nature may move them to tears. 
  • Sensitive to smells, tastes, or textures of foods:  May feel nauseous when smelling certain aromas such as mint,  be very picky eaters, or overeat due to the pleasure derived from certain foods.
  • Sensitivity to chemicals, mold or pollution:  May get headaches and/or nausea from exhaust fumes, cleaning products and/or the presence of mold.
  • Tactile sensitivity:  May be annoyed by tags in their clothing  or repeatedly wear the same clothes because that material feels good against their skin.  


Sensory sensitivities that do limit a child's ability to participate in meaningful life experiences may lead to a Sensory Processing Disorder.  This difference is currently accepted in the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood  but is not recognized in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition).   There are 4 types of sensory processing differences: Dyspraxia, Sensory Modulation, Sensory Discrimination and Postural-Ocular.


Children with dyspraxia have difficulty planning, sequencing or executing unfamiliar actions. They are accident-prone and often described as clumsy. Dyspraxia can make it hard for children to complete single-step motor tasks such as brushing their hair or perform a sequence of movements such as setting a table. They may have slurred speech and be hard to understand and may struggle with copying geometric drawings.

Sensory Modulation

Children with sensory modulation differences have difficulty regulating the intensity and nature of responses to sensory input. Children may withdraw from light and unexpected touch. They may gag and refuse to eat textured food or avoid messy textures such as dirt. They may have strong preferences for certain types of clothing and be highly sensitive to sounds, sights and odors.

Sensory Discrimination

Children with sensory discrimination disorder have problems assigning proper meaning to a particular sensory stimuli. They may have difficulty distinguishing between similar sounds, have a poor sense of movement speed and accidentally harm others during play. 


Children with postural-ocular differences struggle with control and stabilization of the body during movement or rest. They may have difficulty tracking things they see and may have a fear of heights.

Phone: (970) 819-3577
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