Sensory Problem Checklist

Here is a list from a professional diagnostic about different sensory disorder symptoms. Many children exhibit a variety of these symptoms occasionally, but should get over them with time or experience them in a mainly isolated way. Clusters of symptoms, or ones that are getting worse or more intrusive with time should encourage you to seek professional help. If the symptoms are mostly confined to sensory issues, an occupational therapist can be a great help. If the symptoms are compounded with other cognitive/emotional problems (see my other lists), an autistic spectrum disorder will be investigated.

Also keep in mind that a child can have both hypersensitive and hyposensitive behaviors simultaneously. His or her behavior may be erratic or inconsistent (like lights or smells bother them on bad days but on good days does not), and you should still consider that symptom a problem because “normal” sensory kids are usually very consistent unless there is a special circumstance.

  • Has a body tic or twitch s/he seems unable to control
  • makes sounds sh/he seems unable to control
  • holds food in cheeks
  • chokes or gags easily
  • is very worried about getting dirty (or sticky)
  • Hates to get wet
  • needs things to be clean or neat
  • plays with own private parts
  • pulls own hair out (or eyelashes, eyebrows)
  • worries about own body
  • plays with bowel movements or overly loves/hates the bowel process
  • runs fingers along wall, sticks them in gaps, pushes buttons repetitively
  • shreds or destroys clothes, blankets, fabric
  • has nervous habit, twitches
  • chews on things s/he shouldn’t
  • eats paper or other inedible things
  • hugs too hard or too soft
  • is overly gentle or forceful in nature
  • can’t hold pencil or grips too hard
  • can’t bang or bangs too hard, too much
  • can’t squeeze clay, get lids off, turn knobs, twist wind-up toy
  • can’t dress self or do large buttons
  • spits out food, refuses to chew or otherwise strange eating habits
  • hugs, bites, kicks, shoves, or is overly aggressive with touch (when not angry)
  • runs from hugs, pats, or physical touch; wipes off kisses
  • touches, leans on, picks at, or otherwise “bothers” others when in proximity (often not noticing)
  • complains about lights being too bright and/or sounds being too loud
  • overly responds to humming, buzzing, or white noise sounds
  • chokes or gags on smells
  • covers ears when watching TV
  • complains of going to fast when in car, too high when lifted up
  • has trouble with stairs
  • doesn’t run
  • doesn’t catch self when falls
  • slow reflexes
  • picky eater; refuses crunchy, sticky, or rough foods
  • shreds food, pushes it around, puts too much in mouth, or combines/mixes in unusual ways
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