We know that at least 1 in 20 children have sensory processing disorder (SPD). Research has also shown that 35% of gifted and talented children have features of SPD. This is even more than the general population. Most of these children have the most common subtype of SPD called Sensory Modulation Disorder (over-responsively, under-responsively, sensory seeking) and some also have dyspraxia.
I think that this is a huge deal and should be taken more seriously. I work with many children who are so bright and intelligent, yet they struggle to cope with day-to-day activities such as tactile experiences, changes in routine, being in louder or busier environments, socialising with siblings or peers, or moving about the playground and playing physical games. Simply, their cognitive skills are beyond their age however their emotional regulation and sensory processing are well below their age. This mismatch can make it really frustrating for them. Also, because these kids are so bright and look okay from the exterior, parents are often told that they’re reading into it and their concerns aren’t taken seriously by professionals and teachers.
If unrecognised, sensory processing difficulties amongst gifted kids can negatively impact upon their social and emotional development which carries over into adulthood. It also causes difficulties in motor and cognitive abilities.
Being that 1/3 of gifted kids are found to have SPD, it would be wonderful if gifted and talented programs would screen their kids for SPD and teachers would be armed with supports and strategies to help their students.
Imagine, if this population were given the right sensory tools and strategies to help them be more comfortable with their bodies, environment and others, they would soar. Occupational therapists, parents, teachers, and the students must work together to support gifted students and make sure they can reach their fullest potential.
Check out the library of the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation for more on this important research as well as other articles.