What is Sensory Processing Disorder? - Treatment for Children with SPD

Author // Monika Buerger, DC

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What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Treatment for Children with SPD
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Treatment for Children with SPD

Refined sugar should be avoided (and definitely not a staple for these children!) It is helpful for parents to begin “label reading” and become aware of the amount of sugar in their child’s favorite food. Every four grams of sugar in a product is equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar (e.g. 8 ounces of Welch’s Grape Juice = 40 grams of sugar = 10 teaspoons of sugar).

Food preservatives and food colorings are considered neurotoxins—substances that are considered toxic to the nervous system. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a report supporting the use of preservative-free, food coloring-free diets as an intervention for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Omega-3 fatty acids are good “brain food” and can be found in cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout. They are also found in dark green leafy vegetables and flaxseed oil. It can also be helpful to supplement children with a good brand of omega-3 fish oil which is available in capsule, chewable, and liquid forms.

Dairy-free and gluten-free diets may also be beneficial in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. These may be a little trick to initiate at first but the benefits are often worth it. There are a number of great books available to help parents on initiating such a diet and many grocery stores and health food stores now carry dairy-free and gluten-free products.

Exercise their brains! Our brains learn and retain information by moving through three-dimensional space. In today’s world, infants are spending more time in car seats, walkers, and other restrictive devices that impair proper neuropathway development. As children get older, the increase use of computers, video games, and text messaging limit critical movement necessary to continue and maintain proper neuropathway development. Children need a daily dose of “brain food” such as running, skipping, jumping, climbing, swinging, and crawling. In addition, children need activities that involve movement of both sides of the body. When they are young, expose them to a variety of different textures, especially on their hands, feet, and face. Get them moving and let them be kids!

Chiropractic care is an essential cornerstone of treatment for any child with a neurodevelopmental disorder. Children with SPD are said to have a “disconnect” between the brain and the body. Properly functioning vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems are the two key components in developing and maintaining a healthy sensory processing system. Because these two sensory systems have a large part of their function housed in the spine, it is essential that children with signs of SPD be evaluated by a chiropractor for vertebral subluxations (misalignments) of the spine that may cause interference within the brain and sensory systems.

In children with SPD there is often a history of a traumatic or difficult birth, c-section, or breach birth; all of which can cause injury and subluxations to the spine. Additional causes of subluxations include falls; when children are learning to walk, they are constantly falling face first or backwards. Then there are the falls out of cribs, off couches, beds, chairs; off playground equipment or bicycles, etc. Car accidents can cause spinal trauma, even if the child is restrained in a car seat or has a seat belt on. School-aged children carrying backpacks, children playing recreational or school-related sports are all prone to spinal injuries.

Pathways Issue 19 CoverThis article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #19.

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