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Experiences of Parents of Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

The purpose of this unpublished qualitative study was to explore the experiences of parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  Ten parents were interviewed with open-ended questions about parenting their child.  The interviews were then analyzed to find common themes.  This research study was approved by the Rutgers University IRB.


Ten parents were interviewed 

Theme 1

Family Isolation

Parents discussed feeling isolated from their extended family and friends.

Theme 2

Family Planning

Parents discussed the need to plan family activities, including sibling creation and schedule, around the needs of the child with SPD.

Theme 3


Parents discussed extensive therapy and educational supports for their child with SPD which led to acceptance of the child's needs.

The Surprise!

Qualitative research is generally about finding the common themes of what many people said in an unbiased way.  In this study, the most surprising finding is what parents did not say.

Only one of the ten parents interviewed discussed the sensory systems.

An ongoing sensory diet is the most effective method to give a child with SPD the sensory input that they need.  Doing so creates a calmer child who is more ready to engage with the world.  A sensory dysregulated child is more likely to have behaviors that interrupt daily routines, learning, and ability to navigate the world resiliently.  In order to understand a child's behavior and implement a sensory diet, one must have knowledge of the various sensory systems.

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