Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is generally tied in with Autism and other Neurodevelopmental issues. It is not currently classified as a stand-alone diagnosis. I, along with many others, believe it should be. SPD causes a person to be overstimulated by the things most of us just interpret as everyday life. Sights, sounds, touch, and all the things that make up our environment become overwhelming to a person with SPD.
SPD is most often identified in children, although adults may also have it. With SPD one or more of the senses may be greatly magnified, and could cause a child to throw a fit, be unable to focus, have difficulty learning, and struggle in social interactions. Light is too bright. Sounds seem too loud and overwhelming.
Our bodies are filled with sensors that detect temperature, touch, sound, vibration, and anything else we might encounter. The information gathered from these sensors is then transmitted by the nervous system to the brainstem. Once there, a filter sorts through the information and decides what is important, what is not important, and then sends the important information to the cortex of the brain. The brain then makes the necessary decision and responds accordingly.
This filter is called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is a bundle of nerves at the base of the brainstem that filters all sensory information at lightspeed. When the RAS is functioning properly it provides an environment for a child to focus, learn, and follow instructions. When the RAS malfunctions a “normal” environment can become overwhelming as far too much information passes through. This leads to overstimulation, and the inability to focus and this often causes outbursts, as a child cannot handle it all at once. This is what we find in Sensory Processing Disorder.
While there are several reasons the RAS may malfunction, the one I deal with in my office is an upper neck vertebrae misalignment. The brain stem extends down out of the skull and into the top two bones in the neck. If one of these bones misalign, it can cause pressure on the brain stem and cause it to malfunction. Depending on the direction and amount of misalignment, this can cause the RAS to malfunction and lead to a sensory processing issue.
I have seen and helped a great number of these children over my career, but my favorite story is about a young man I helped in my first year in practice. Let’s call him Sam. Sam was 4-years-old and still in diapers. He was unable to eat solid food and was still on baby food. It was next to impossible to touch him, even for his parents. Loud noises sent him into a screaming fit, and bright lights made him run. I watched his loving parents try to hug him, and he resisted. He loved them, but he just couldn’t handle the touch. It was heartbreaking. Our initial consultation consisted of me speaking with his parents, while he literally ran in circles and screamed for 20 minutes. A new situation and a new person were more than he could handle. It took several follow up visits before he would let me do a proper exam. When I did, I found a large misalignment of the top bone in his neck. I corrected the misalignment, and took the pressure off the brainstem. What happened over the next three months brings tears to my eyes as I write this now.
Three months into care, and he would walk in the door, look me in the eye, and tell me what he had done that day. He would then come straight to me, and give me a hug. He had usually come from Chick Fil A where he ate chicken nuggets. The diapers were long gone, and he was as calm as could be. It was a near miraculous improvement.
If your child is suffering from SPD, I urge you to have their upper neck checked to find out if they can be helped through upper cervical chiropractic. The adjustment is gentle with no twisting or turning, and we have a long track-record of helping these precious children better adapt to life. If you live in the area we offer a free consultation to see if they can be helped. If you live elsewhere or have a friend or family member in another state I would be more than happy to find a qualified Upper Cervical provider for them. Call 239-243-8810 today for your free consultation at Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers!
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.