Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist   

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 Symptoms Checklist    boy and girl sensory differences

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  symptoms can often be misunderstood or overlooked, leading to late diagnosis and treatment. To help identify potential signs of sensory differences, a sensory processing disorder checklist can be used to evaluate a child’s sensory symptoms. 

The symptoms lists below are not medical forms or assessments. They are basic informational list that I have created to help you. They are for informational purposes only. If you are concerned your child may have sensory processing disorder please see an occupational therapist for a sensory assessment.  This checklist cannot be used to evaluate a child’s or to determine if they have any sensory processing difficulties.

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.
sensory processing disorder sensory systems little girl holding sign of eight senses

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.

This sensory symptoms checklist is divided into different categories of senses, such as tactile (touch), auditory (sound), visual (sight), olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), and vestibular (movement).  There are also categories by age too. This can help identify specific areas where a child may be experiencing sensory difficulties. 

This sensory processing disorder checklist is not a diagnostic tool. A diagnosis of SPD should be made by a qualified healthcare professional, such as an occupational therapist or developmental pediatrician. They will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the child’s sensory processing. This may include standardized assessments, direct observation, and information from parents and caregivers. 

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist 

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
Hypersensitivity To Touch Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist    (Tactile Defensiveness)

Hyposensitivity To Touch (Under-Responsive)

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist    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) Under-Responsive

- 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
Hyposensitivity To Movement (Vestibular) Under-Responsive Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

Hypersensitivity To Movement (Vestibular) Over-Responsive

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist    Hypersensitivity To Movement (Vestibular) Over-Responsive

- 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

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
Hypo-responsiveness (proprioception) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

Hyper-responsiveness (Proprioception)

Hyper-responsiveness (Proprioception) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

- 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 (Auditory)

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
Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist    Hypo-responsiveness (Auditory)

Hyper-responsiveness (Auditory)

Hyper-responsiveness (Auditory) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

- 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 (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 (Visual) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

Hyper-responsiveness (Visual)

Hyper-responsiveness (Visual) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist
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

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
Hyper-responsiveness Smells (Olfactory) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

Hypo-responsiveness Smells (Olfactory)

Hypo-responsiveness Smells (Olfactory) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

- 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

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
Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist    Oral Hypo-sensitive (Gustatory)

Oral Hypersensitive (Gustatory)

Oral Hypersensitive (Gustatory) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

- sensitive to hot and cold foods
- gags on food textures often
- 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
- has a utensil preference (certain fork or spoon)
- prefers to eat at home
- has difficulty chewing
- prefers pureed foods

Hyper-responsiveness (Interoceptive) 

- sensitive to feeling cold and hot
- uses the bathroom often and feeling they always need too
- unable to respond to feelings appropriately
- overeats and overdrinks and not usually feeling full
- often feels hungry or thirsty
- sensitive to the feeling of their heartbeat
- easily overwhelmed when they feel stress
- high pain tolerance
Hyper-responsiveness (Interoceptive)  Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

Hypo-responsiveness (Interoceptive) 

- difficulty going to sleep
- doesn’t feel cold and hot
- struggles with toilet training
- doesn’t often drink or eat enough
- they don’t tell you when they feel unwell or sick
- low pain tolerance
- they don’t often know when they need the bathroom
- they don’t tell you if they are thirsty or hungry

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 Symptoms Checklist    Sensory Processing Disorder (Play Symptoms)

Sensory Processing Disorder  (Social Symptoms)

Sensory Processing Disorder  (Social Symptoms) Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist

- 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
Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist    Sensory Processing Disorder (Emotional Symptoms)

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.

Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links on my website.  Each of your purchases through links on my website for Amazon affiliation links or sponsored links supports me but at no additional cost to you so thank you for your purchases. I appreciate it so much!