Christmas SPD Sensory Checklists

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects everyone differently. Some children can have severe symptoms and other children will have mild symptoms. 

Some children can have every symptom in one sensory system category and have no symptoms in the other categories, they can also have a few symptoms from a few categories. 

It is so different for everyone who has Sensory Processing Disorder. A child could just have a few of these symptoms and still have Sensory Processing Disorder. 

Children who have Sensory Processing Disorder usually fall into two categories, a seeker or an avoider.  

Sensory Processing Disorder Types Of Sensory Input 

1. Tactile-what you feel (touch).

2. Visual-what you see.

3. Auditory-what you hear.

4. Gustation-what you taste.

5. Olfactory-what you smell.

6. Proprioception-body awareness. This is the ability to know where you are without using your sight. If you close your eyes and touch your nose successfully that’s because of your proprioceptive system.

7. Vestibular-where you are in space, this input comes from movement and head position. Your vestibular system lets you know if you are upright or hanging upside down.

8. Interoception-how you ‘feel’. This is input that lets you know you are hungry, thirsty, need to use the restroom, that your heart is beating fast, that you are hot or cold, etc.

Sensory Seeker & Sensory Avoider 

Most people think that you have to be one or the other, but it is actually more common to be both an avoider and a seeker.

Hypersensitive means that you are more sensitive (over-responsive) to input than others. This may look like covering your ears when a vacuum is turned on because it is too loud. Or struggling with the feeling of your clothing, even to the point of not being able to wear clothes. At times we refer to people that are hypersensitive as avoiders, they want to avoid certain types of input because they are more sensitive to them.

Hyposensitive means that you are less sensitive (under-responsive) to input than others. Meaning you may want and crave more input to feel regulated and fulfilled. This may look like constantly moving, spinning, jumping, or playing rough with others. At times we refer to people that are hyposensitive as seekers.

Sensory Processing Disorder Avoider (hypersensitive)
- covers ears from noise
- avoids messy play or messy hands
- dislikes anyone too close to them
- doesn't like climbing and swinging
- refuses bath time
- complains about smells
- struggles to brush their teeth
- feels pain more than most do
- walks on toes
- dislikes water on their face
- mentions lights are too bright
- doesn't like tags or seams on clothes
- avoids hugs and kisses
- struggles with food textures

Sensory Processing Disorder Seeker (hyposensitive)
- loves movement
- enjoys being rough and active
- loves a stimulating environment
- craves salty, chewy and crunchy foods
- enjoys motion, crashes into walls or floors
- loves running and jumping
- touches everything
- struggles to sit still
- has a poor attention span
- climbs too high or climbs on everything
- crashes into people and everything
- licks or chews everything
- doesn't feel pain like most do
- engages in messy play

Sensory Diet Activities 

Sensory Diet Tactile Activities
- finger painting
- sensory bins (rice, beans)
- face and body painting
- bubble bath and swimming
- body tattoos or stickers on the body
- deep pressure 
- brushing different textured brushes over the skin
- drawing with chalk on the body
- massage with oils, lotions and powders
- brushing for sensory defensiveness 
- rubbing different fabric textures against the skin
- drawing in sand or salt
- sensory play (water, sand, slime play dough, clay)
- gardening and plating flowers
- toys with vibration
- playing in the mud
- cooking and baking

Sensory Diet Vestibular Activities
- swinging in a hammock 
- rolling up in a blanket
- jumping on crash pad or trampoline
- bouncing on a yoga ball or teeter totter
- spinning in a chair or sit and spin toy
- rocking on a rocking horse
- hanging upside down off couch, from monkey bars or from trapeze bars
- playing on toys with wheels
(roller blades, wagons, trikes or scooters)
- playground on playground equipment 
(slides, teeter totter, merry-go-round)
- playing gross motor games
(soccer, basketball, tag or hopscotch

Sensory Diet Proprioceptive Activities
- rough and tumble play or play wrestling
- tug of war with rope or fabric
- crawling through tunnels and boxes
- pulling or pushing a cart or wagon
- catching and throwing a weighted ball
- wheelbarrow walking
- scooter board activities
- squishing between pillows
- squeezing stress balls
- joint compressions
- exercise (push ups, yoga, sit ups)
- rolling out play dough 
- hanging from trapeze
- pulling apart resistant toys or objects
- gross motor activities
(obstacle courses or stretching)

Gustatory Sensory Diet Activities

- vibrating toothbrush
- blowing bubbles
- whistling
- drinking through a straw
- blowing through musical instruments
- eating crunchy snacks
- blowing up balloons
- exploring food temperatures, tastes and textures
- chewing gum
- exploring edible sensory bins
- chewing sensory chew necklace 
- chewing sour candy
- blowing a pinwheel 

Sensory Diet Auditory Activities

- use noise reduction headphones 
- listen to music
- play clapping games
- walk and listen to nature
- play an instrument
- listen to audio books
- use a sound machine
- shake a rice sensory bottle 
- sing in a microphone
- play matching sound games
- play speaking and listening games
- storytelling
- play with sound puzzles
- dance to different music
- play telephone games
- practice heavy work activities 

Sensory Diet Visual Activities

- sensory bottles
- color matching games
- light table activities
-  visual schedules 
- marble mazes
- light up toys
- spinning toys
- kaleidoscopes
- catching a ball
- I spy games
- bean bag toss
- stringing beads
- liquid motion toys
- drawing pictures
- dot to dot worksheets
- water play
- shadow puppets
- bubbles
- firgets 

Sensory Diet Olfactory Activities
- play with scented play dough 
- write with scented pens
- blow scented bubbles
- use scented sensory paints
- use scented markers
- scratch and sniff scented stickers
- wear essential oil diffuser necklace
- make sensory scented bottles
- chew scented bubble gum
- bake and cook
- play with scented fidget toys
- guess the scent game
- play with scented rice sensory bin 

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklists 

Hypersensitivity To Touch (Tactile Defensiveness)

- difficulty getting hair cuts
- avoids being touched or sitting too close to others
- resists wearing shoes, jeans, underwear or socks
- doesn't like nails being cut
- dislikes taking a shower or having a bath
- gets angry or surprised by unexpected touch
- dislikes being kissed or hugged 
- avoids messy play
- refuses to eat different food textures
- avoids going barefoot in the grass 
- doesn't like to wash or brush hair 
- extremely ticklish
- bothered by clothing seams and fabrics 
- gets upset when hands are dirty

Hyposensitivity To Touch (Under-Responsive)

- seeks out touch and wants to touch everything 
- bites or pinches themselves  
- hurts family pets or other children when playing 
- loves messy play 
- unaffected by getting hurt (high pain tolerance) 
- doesn't notice when being touched 
- unbothered by dirty hands or messy face
- bumps into others and objects
- craves heavy pressure 
- enjoys rubbing and feeling certain fabrics
- touches everyone around them 
- doesn't notice a runny nose  
- uses heavy pressure when writing with a pencil
- wants to play in water often

Hyposensitivity To Movement (Vestibular) 

- can spin for a long time and not get dizzy
- has difficulty sitting still
- enjoys riding on scary fair rides 
- would rather run, skip and jump than walk  
- likes to hang upside down 
- craves fast and intense movement 
-  enjoys rocking in a chair 
- struggles to pay attention 
- frequently falls and often clumsy
- prefers heights and being high in the air 
- often jumps on beds or furniture 
- always fidgeting 
- takes risks while playing
- always in motion

Hypersensitivity To Movement (Vestibular)

- avoids slides and swings at the park
- fearful of heights
- dislikes escalators and elevators 
- afraid of riding a bike 
- difficulty when using stairs
- motion sickness 
- do not like to watch spinning objects
- being clumsy 
- easily dizzy when in motion or spinning
- anxious to fall 
- scared to walk on unlevel areas 
-  difficulty balancing or jumping
- easily startled if moved by someone else 
- fearful of being upside down

Hyper-responsiveness (Proprioception)

- dislikes hugs and affection
- often appears to be lazy or too tired
- sits still without much movement
- refuses to participate in physical activities and sports
- uncoordinated body movements
- does not like to be touched by others
- struggles walking up and down stairs
- writes very lightly on paper
- often has low energy
- tires out easily from standing too long
- hypersensitive to pain
- eats pureed foods
- avoids wearing tight clothes
- has poor posture
- difficulty with body awareness

Hypo-responsiveness (proprioception)

- often fidgets
- always in constant motion
- falls often and clumsy
- has a heavy foot and stomps feet
- enjoys tight hugs and being squished under cushions
- jumps on bed and furniture
- appears to be aggressive
- purposely flops down on the floor
- frequently grinds teeth
- pushes or hits other children
- known to play rough
- struggles with fine motor skills
- prefers being wrapped up in heavy blankets
- bumps and crashes into everything
- walks on toes
- poor handwriting skills

Hyper-responsiveness (Auditory)

- frequently asks others to be quiet or to stop talking
- holds hands over ears
- easily afraid when loud sounds are heard
- startles to the sounds of hand dryers and flushing toilets
- doesn't like being in loud spaces
- easily distracted by background noises
- sensitive to certain sounds
- has difficulty paying attention
- struggles to listen and look at the same time
- reading can be challenging
- becomes upset with sudden sounds and noises
- slow to follow instructions
- struggles to participate in group discussions
- dislikes sirens, fire alarms or fireworks

Hypo-responsiveness (Auditory)

- enjoys making noise
- talks out loud while doing things
- says "what" often
- speaks loudly
- unaware of sounds and noises
- craves noise
- unsure where sounds and noises are coming from
- asks to repeat instructions
- frequently makes silly sounds
- likes to listen to loud music
- enjoys attending loud events
- watches television loudly
- bangs on doors
- forgets what people have said

Hyper-responsiveness (Visual)

- covers eyes to bright lights
- gets headaches from lights
- squints eyes
- has poor eye contact
- likes to play in the dark
- sensitive to bright colors and lights
- difficulty adjusting to sudden color changes
- doesn't like fluorescent lights
- flashing lights hurt their eyes
- distracted by decorations in a room
- complains about colorful lighting
- doesn't like to be in a brightly lit room
- prefers dimmer colors to brighter colors
- uncomfortable around too much clutter

Hypo-responsiveness (Visual)

- has double or blurred vision
- has difficulty differentiating between similar letters (b,d)
- confuses different shapes
- struggles doing puzzles
- misunderstands left and right
- struggles with reading and writing
- easily tired while doing school work
- enjoys watching objects spin
- struggles with eye/hand coordination
- difficulty copying from books
- responds slowly to objects coming toward them
- missteps on curbs or stairs
- bumps into people and objects
- focuses on details
- struggles often to see the differences in objects/colors etc.

Hypo-responsiveness Smells (Olfactory)

- enjoys strong scents
- often smelling things in their environment
- likes objects based on smell
- has trouble distinguishing between smells they don't like
- ingest something dangerous because they don't recognize smell
- has difficulty differentiating smells
- unaware of smells that bother others
- doesn't notice very bad smells
- does an extreme amount of smelling in new environments
- excessively sniffs other people
- uses smell to connect to other objects

Hyper-responsiveness Smells (Olfactory)

- dislikes smells that others don't notice
- tells others how bad they smell
- won't eat several foods because of their smell
- doesn't like the smell of other people's homes
- complains over perfume smells
- anxious by certain smells
- pinches nostrils to avoid smelling the environment
- nauseated by certain scents
- very sensitive to the smell of what someone is cooking
- avoids places due to their smell
- rejects others because of their smell

Oral Hypo-sensitive (Gustatory)

- prefers spicy and intense flavorful foods
- chews non-food items
- prefers only very hot or very cold foods
- bites other people
- chews inside their cheeks
- fills cheeks full of food
- chews on fingers or shirts
- enjoys using a vibrating toothbrush
- bites finger nails
- prefers crunchy foods
- bite their tongue and lips often
- craves certain foods
- licks objects around them

Oral Hypersensitive (Gustatory)

- sensitive to hot and cold foods
- gags on food textures often
- doesn't like the taste of toothpaste
- prefers bland plain foods without spices and flavor
- anxious to go to the dentist
- dislikes different textures of food mixed together
- picky about different brands of food
- avoids foods with certain textures
- picky eater or selective eater
- dislikes brushing teeth
- doesn't want to try new foods
- sometimes chokes on food or afraid they will choke
- has a utensil preference (certain fork or spoon)
- prefers to eat at home
- has difficulty chewing
- prefers pureed foods

Sensory Processing Disorder 
(Play Symptoms)

- struggles to play independently
- enjoys repetitive play
- requires assistance to help them play with others
- lines up toys and objects around them
- enjoys the same movies and television shows every day
- doesn't engage in purposeful play
- plays without expressing much emotion
- often gives up on play easily
- has meltdowns during playtime
- doesn't cooperate when playing with peers

Sensory Processing Disorder 
(Social Symptoms)

- difficulty having conversations with children their age
- Abusive towards themselves and friends
- struggles to get along with their friends
- enjoys playing alone
- difficulty interacting with peers
- two way conversations are challenging
- peers find it difficult to understand their needs
- struggles to initiate conversation
- easily upset when playing with other children
- difficulty making friends

Sensory Processing Disorder
 (Emotional Symptoms)

- struggles with low self-esteem
- has low self-confidence
- often frustrated
- change in routine causes a meltdown
- tends to be impulsive
- often has tantrums, meltdowns and outbursts
- struggles to express themselves
- usually avoids eye contact
- moods fluctuate
- often anxious
- withdrawn and often plays alone
- needs a lot of reassurance
- prefers to watch other children than join and play

Diagnosis Symptoms 

Dyscalculia Symptoms
- difficulty recognizing patterns
- copies numbers out of order
- map reading difficulties
- difficulty with math tasks
- reverses numbers
- uses fingers to count
- difficulty counting objects
- guesses math answers
- gets into trouble to avoid doing math
- struggles to remember multiplication
- difficulty reading charts and graphs
- frequent headaches while doing math
- difficulty understanding math word problems
- poor self esteem and doesn't feel smart
- confuses math symbols - or +
- struggles to count money or make change
- remembering basic math facts are challenging
- struggles to count in two's, three's or five's
- difficulty understanding math words
- has trouble learning and naming numbers
- gets emotional while doing math

Dysgraphia Symptoms
- incorrect use of capitals
- not including words in sentences
- not using the correct words
- poor or unreadable handwriting
- incorrect spelling
- mixing printing letter with cursive letters together
- writing slowly
- incomplete words
- misuse of lines and margins
- awkward body position
- often erasing
- writing too large or too small
- inappropriate spacing between letters
- speaking out what they are writing as they are writing
- feeling tired after writing a short amount
- tight grip while they are writing
- holding pencil/pen in odd positions while writing
- they have difficulty writing notes in school
- difficulty thinking of words to write
- avoids writing
- unusual paper position while writing
- unfinished sentences
- pain or cramps in fingers or wrists while writing

Dyslexia Symptoms
- reads something slowly or more than once to understand
- difficulty pronouncing multi-syllable words
- adds letters in words while writing
- struggles to find the right word
- loses place on the page, skips lines or rereads lines
- difficulty copying words from another paper
- misspells many common words
- has difficulty with spelling, writing and reading
- difficulty remembering the entire alphabet
- recognizes a word on one page but not on the next page
- reads words in the wrong order
- movement of letters on a page when reading or writing
- often confuses left and right
- confuses letters with similar shape (b & d)
- struggles to find words that rhyme
- struggles to read time on a clock or tie shoes

- loud high pitched voice
- easily distressed and having meltdowns
- clumsy
- difficulties in establishing routine
- sensitive to loud noises
- difficulty with fine motor skills
- difficulty climbing
- sleeping difficulties
- struggles to get dressed and tie shoes
- poor control of the oral motor muscles
- struggles to play ball games
- difficulty timing movements
- poor body awareness
- hypotonia or low muscle tone
- speech and language processing delays
- slow motor reactions
- visual-spatial difficulties
- difficulties with social skills
- poor handwriting skills
- swinging feet while seated
- prefers to eat with fingers
- no sense of danger
- awkward movements
- short attention span

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - fidgets and squirming while seated - difficulty focusing in class - excessive talking - runs, jumps and climbs when not permitted - easily distracted - difficulty paying attention - often loses or misplaces personal items - interrupts others while talking - struggles to wait their turn - low impulse control - easily frustrated - difficulty calming down when angry - inpatient with others - constant movement and restlessness - difficulty with sleep - difficulty completing tasks - emotional outbursts - easily bored - difficulty following instructions - struggles to take turns - often disorganized - struggles socially

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
- difficulty listening for extended periods of time in school
- does not respond to or has difficulty following verbal instructions
- cannot communicate well in noisy environments
- difficulty remembering information received verbally or written
- overstimulated by or distracted by random noises
- delayed speech
- lack of attention and concentration
- limited vocabulary
- sound sensitivities
- agitated and easily distracted by noise
- delayed reading skills
difficulty reading out loud
- easily stressed in noisy environments
- confusion with consonants and similar sounding words
- difficulty with colors, shapes, numbers and alphabet

Childhood Depression
- feeling hopelessness
- low energy
- extremely sensitive to rejection or failure
- low self esteem and guilt
- increased irritability or anger
- difficulty with relationships
- persistent boredom
- headaches and stomach aches
- poor concentration
- increased or decreased eating
- inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
- speaks negatively about themselves
- struggling to do well academically
- talks about running away or does run away
- afraid or worries a lot
- sleeping too much or not enough
- doesn't want to be around friends or family
- appears to be sad and unhappy most of the time
- feeling guilty
- thinking everything is their fault
- talks about suicide
- self destructive behavior

Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)
- difficulty identifying and understanding sarcasm
- struggles with reading comprehension
- poor fine motor skills
- struggles with change
- repetitively asking questions
- overly-trusting or naïve
- poor executive functioning
- struggles to understand visual information
- difficulty sustaining their attention
- poor physical coordination (clumsy)
- mathematical problem solving
- inability to read non-verbal social cues (expressions/body language)
- poor organizational and planning skills
- struggles to recognize others emotions
- poor problem solving skills

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional.

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