Sensory Processing Disorder and Chiropractic Care

by Dr. Jessica Caruso – Prenatal and Family Chiropractor

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from the brain’s inability to integrate everyday sensory information received from the five senses: touch, vision, sound, smell, and taste.(1)

The five senses mentioned above are commonly known. However, there are 2 other senses, rarely known but extremely important: vestibular and proprioceptive systems.
The vestibular system is physiologically located in the cerebellum (base of brain), upper cervical spine (top of neck) and inner ear. The vestibular system is responsible for regulating all incoming sensory information and is considered the most important sensory system. The proprioceptive system is located throughout the spine and joints of the body. Disruption of this system may lead to problems with learning, motor skills, behavior, and social / emotional development. (1)

It is estimated that 1 in 20 children suffers from SPD. Children with SPD are often misdiagnosed as having ADD, ADHD, or other neurodevelopmental disorders. This misdiagnosis may be due to the fact that SPD often co-exists with ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, OCD, anxiety disorder, traumatic brain injury, and learning disabilities. These children are usually misunderstood and labeled as aggressive, clumsy, inattentive, or difficult. (1)

Some signs your child may have SPD:

Touch: they may avoid or crave touch, get irritated by certain clothing (ex: tags, sock seams) and food textures (1)
Smell: may be susceptible to allergies, may need to excessively smell toys, items, people (1)
Taste: “picky eaters”, exhibit pica (eating non-edible items like chalk, crayons, dirt, etc.) (1)
Vision: difficulty going down stairs, poor hand-eye coordination, eye discomfort when required to perform visual work like reading, frequent headaches and stomach upset after school, may need to read out loud to keep place (1)
Auditory: may be upset with loud or unexpected noises, hum and sing to screen out unwanted noises, bothered by clock ticking, refrigerator humming, air conditioner on, cover ears a lot, speak loudly (1)
Proprioception: may need physical contact with another person, may exhibit hysteria over washing hair, pulling shirts over head, difficulty falling asleep, sleep walking, and are clumsy (1)

Chiropractic care is an essential treatment for these children. Properly functioning vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems are key components in developing and maintaining a healthy sensory processing system. Because these two sensory systems are largely located in the spine, it is extremely important to remove any spinal misalignments with a chiropractic adjustment that may be causing nerve interference.

Family wellness chiropractors are also well versed in proper nutrition. It is important to avoid certain foods and add certain foods into the diet for treatment of SPD. Refined sugar, food preservatives, and food colorings should be avoided. Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish (wild caught) such as salmon, tuna, and trout, and dark green leafy vegetables and flaxseed oil are considered good “brain food.” Dairy-free and gluten-free diets may also be helpful for these children (1). Keeping a food journal and reviewing it with your family chiropractor is advised.

Exercising your child’s brain is highly recommended. Today children spend more time in car seats, walkers, and other places that restrict movement and impair neurodevelopment. As children get older they are spending more time in front of a computer, playing video games, or texting, and not enough time running, jumping, skipping, climbing, swinging and crawling. Activities that involve using both sides of the body are necessary for proper development (1).

Other things to consider:

  • Drink Water: Water comprises more of the brain than any other organ of the body. Having children drink water before and during class can help “grease the wheel.” Drinking water is very important before stressful situations like taking tests (2).
  • Cross-Crawl Exercises: This exercise helps coordinate right and left brain by exercising the information flow between the two hemispheres. It is useful for spelling, writing, listening, reading and comprehension (2).
  • Brain Buttons: This exercise helps improve blood flow to the brain to “switch on” the entire brain before a lesson begins. The increased blood flow helps improve concentration skills required for reading and writing (2).
  • Hook Ups: This works well for nerves before a test or special event like making a speech. These help calm the mind and improve concentration (2).
  • Listening to classical music such as Mozart may help improve the IQ (2).
  • Using Colored Pens: Using colored pens helps the right brain remember patterns (2).

Finding a chiropractor familiar with Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D. and Gail E. Dennison’s work is recommended.

To find a family wellness chiropractor near you visit


(1) Pathways to Family Wellness, Issue 19; What is Sensory Processing Disorder?, Monika Buerger, D.C.

(2) Brain Gym® Exercises,, Kenneth Beare

Colic and Chiropractic

By Dr. Jessica Caruso, Prenatal & Family Chiropractor and Reiki Practitioner

Colic is a disorder in which an infant has episodes of uncontrollable crying. It occurs in about 10-20% of infants less than 4 months of age. Colic is not only detrimental to the infant’s health but can create a tremendous amount of stress on the entire family unit.

The exact cause of colic is not known, but has been linked to gas in the intestine, dietary issues and birth trauma.

Research has shown that chiropractic care can help. A randomized clinical trial by Wiberg, et al. has concluded: “Spinal manipulation is effective in relieving infantile colic.” The research team enrolled infants diagnosed with infantile colic into two groups. For 2 weeks half the infants received chiropractic spinal manipulations (adjustments) , while the other half received the drug dimethicone.  At day five of the trial the group receiving spinal manipulations did significantly better than the group on the drug. Over the course of the entire trial, the infants receiving chiropractic care had a 67% reduction in crying noted, compared to only 38% reduction in the infants on dimethicone. (1)

There is a growing body of research that supports the efficacy of chiropractic care for children with colic.  In a prospective study of 316 children satisfactory improvement was noted within 2 weeks in 94% of the infantile colic cases being treated by a chiropractor. 51% of the infants in this study had previously unsuccessful results using drug therapy. (1, 2)

Chiropractic is not designed to treat disease, but rather to remove spinal nerve stress from the body. Spinal nerve stress (AKA subluxation) is misalignment of the spinal column, cranium, hips and related structures that interferes with the proper function of the nervous system. The nervous system controls the function of the entire body. Therefore, subluxations can weaken internal organs,  organ systems and the immune system as well. (3)

Subluxation can be caused by physical, chemical and/or emotional stress. Physical stress may begin with the baby’s positioning in utero. It may also present during a difficult or traumatic birth which can cause stress to the baby’s skull, spinal column or pelvic structures. (3)

The chiropractic adjustment is designed to remove nerve interference, allowing the immune system to function more efficiently, increase resistance to disease and improve the overall functioning of the body.  Even though parents may bring their children to the chiropractor with a symptom and/or a disease, the chiropractor does not treating the symptom but rather frees the body of nerve interference. This allows  the body to access its innate ability to heal from within and function optimally. (3)