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Sensory Processing Disorder and Food Texture


Sensory processing disorder (SPD) refers to a condition in which sensory signals do not get organized into appropriate responses. It is sometimes described as a neurological “traffic jam.”

A person with this disorder finds it difficult to receive information through the senses. Sometimes this disorder manifests an aversion to textures in food.

Children with SPD

Children who limit themselves to certain food textures, perhaps like only hard pretzels or crunchy celery, may show early signs of SPD. A trained occupational therapy can evaluate a child and determine if the texture aversion is due to the eating disorder.

Alternatively, a child who will only eat soft food and has difficulty chewing may have dental problems rather than SPD. This can be caused by a lack of muscle control, pain in the mouth or throat and other physical differences in the mouth.

Additionally, a child with autism may often seem rigid around food or have strict diet. This can another reason for texture aversion.

Cause of SPD

Primary research suggests that SPD is something that is inherited. However, this research is not definitive. Prenatal and birth complications, including environmental figures, have also been suggested as reasons for the eating disorder.


Once children with SPD are diagnosed with the disorder, they can be treated with a program of occupational therapy with a sensory integration approach. Listening therapy can also be helpful when used in combination with the other treatments.

Occupational therapy generally takes place in a sensory-rich environment or “OT gym”. Typically, children being treated for the disorder participate in fun activities where the child is challenged but always successful.

Additionally, it’s important that treatment for SPD is family-centered. Parents who are involved with treatment may improve a child’s recovery process.

Source: SPD Foundation