Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Sensational Problems in Kids?

Are there any foods that might play a role in sensory integration disorder in a three-year-old?

Answer (Published 10/19/2009)

Sensory integration disorder, also called sensory processing disorder, or SPD, is a controversial, little known problem in children. According to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, SPD is a problem in the way the nervous system receives sensory information and processes it into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. A lot of kids may be affected - perhaps as many as one in five. Some cases are severe enough to disrupt daily life and stall development.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Energy - If you are a parent or grandparent, you know that energy is vital to keeping up with the kids. Find out what foods and supplements can keep you energized - naturally! Join the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online plan today and get 14 days free!

Sometimes only one sense is affected - touch or taste or sight - but some kids have multiple sensory issues. For example, some children find the touch of clothing unbearable while others may not respond normally to sound or pain or to hot or cold temperatures. The cause of this disorder isn't known, although some research suggests that genetic factors or complications before or during birth may play a role. Unhappily, these kids are often misdiagnosed, if they're diagnosed at all. Those who overreact to stimuli might be mistakenly tagged with the label of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although these kids are of normal, sometimes superior, intelligence, they may have difficulty in school, become socially isolated, or suffer from low self-esteem.

Treatment focuses on occupational therapy to foster appropriate responses to sensation so that kids can function normally at home, in school and with friends. As far as food and nutrition are concerned, my main recommendation would be omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil, which has been used to help relieve the symptoms of ADHD in children. Consult your child's pediatrician for the correct dose. Some of these kids give new meaning to the term "picky eater" by resisting whole food groups, which can compromise their nutritional status. If so, they'll need supplements for normal growth and development. Nutrients that may play a role in sensory integration disorder are vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and protein. Here, too, check with a pediatrician for correct dosages before giving a child supplements. Food allergies, food sensitivities and blood sugar regulation (especially in relation to excessive sugar consumption) may be involved, as may gastrointestinal issues related to proper absorption and elimination. To deal with sensory integration disorder, you need a knowledgeable and sympathetic physician familiar with this problem, an experienced occupational therapist and, perhaps, other health professionals. (To find providers with expertise, log onto the directory of the SPD Foundation. With the right help, SPD kids do very well, even excel.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here