SPD Symptoms

General: Symptoms of SPD in Adults

Here is a very basic, traditional checklist for adults with SPD. The list may seem very long, but it is a condensed version that covers the full range of symptoms adults with Sensory Processing Disorder can have. All checklists are made to print well, so feel free to pring this out and mard how often and/or severely you experience each of the following symptoms on a scale of 0 (never) to 4 (always/severe), or use P, if it was previously an issue that no long presents itself in your daily life.

Sensory Modulation

General Modulation

_______ have unusual eating habits (strong preferances, eat at odd times, etc.)

_______ have unusual sleeping habits or sleep schedule

_______ have great difficulty with transitions, be they major life changes or small everyday stuff (one activity to another, going from inside to outdoors, etc.)

_______ become engrossed in one single activity for a long time and seem to tune out everything else

_______ spend hours at a time on fantasy or video games and activities

_______ very high or very low energy level

_______ are resistent to change in your daily life and environment

_______ may have turned to forms of substance abuse

_______ drink excessive amounts of coffee or caffeinated beverages


_______ bothered by clothes; certain materials, tags, seams, pantyhose, ties, belts, turtlenecks. May have to wear shorts, skirts, or pants exclusively, etc.

_______ bothered by "light touch"; someone lightly touching/rubbing your hand, face, leg or back

_______ excessively ticklish

_______ distressed by others touching you; would rather be the "toucher" than the "touchee". May lead to difficulty "snuggling" with your partner

_______ very sensitive to pain, especially as compared to others

_______ dislike the feeling of showers or getting splashed

_______ difficulty going to the beach; the sand blowing on your skin or getting on your body

_______ avoid touching anything "messy"; if you do, you have to go wash your hands right away and/or only touch it with your fingertips

_______ can not wear new or "stiff" clothes that have not been washed or soaked in fabric softener

_______ hate to be barefoot or hate to wear shoes and/or socks

_______ frequently get car sick, air sick, motion sick

_______ difficulty riding on elevators, escalators, or moving sidewalks

_______ avoid amusement park rides that drop, climb, spin, or go upside down

_______ difficulty eating foods with mixed textures, or one particular texture

_______ prefer very bland foods, dislike anything spicy

_______ become nauseated or gag from certain cooking, cleaning, perfume, public restroom, or bodily odors

_______ become overstimulated or overaroused when people come to the house or when in crowded places

_______ overly exited/aroused in group settings

_______ avoid crowds and hide or disappear when guests come over

_______ sensitive to noises that other people do not seem bothered by (clocks, refrigerators, fans, people talking, blenders, vaccuum cleaners, animals, outdoor construction, etc.)

_______ easily distracted by auditory or visual stimuli

_______ can not attend certain public events or places due to excessive noise

_______ over react to loud noises, like sirens

_______ can't sleep if room isn't completely dark

_______ fearful of heights

_______ bothered by hands or face being dirty


_______ may fail to recognize stimuli that most would find alerting or strong

_______ unable to identify foods that have gone bad by smell

_______ difficulty being able to smell dangerous smells, i.e., smoke, noxious/hazardous solvents, or if something is burning in the stove or oven

_______ don't seem to notice pain; get shots/cuts/bruises and hardly feel a thing

_______ lethargic, hard to get going, appear "lazy" and unmotivated

_______ don't seem to notice if your hands or face are dirty

_______ don't seem to get dizzy

_______ have a hard time feeling parts of your body, as though they aren't there

_______ difficulty waking up in the morning (may not even notice alarm clock)

Sensory Seeking

_______ have to fidget and "fiddle" with things all the time; change in your pocket, your keys, a pen/pencil, paper clip, rubber band, anything within reach

_______ often touching and twisting your own hair

_______ are a thrill seeker; love fast and/or dangerous rides, leisure activities, and sports

_______ seek out fast, spinning, and/or upside down carnival rides

_______ will often rock or sway body back and forth while seated or standing still

_______ frequently tip chair on back two legs

_______ restless when sitting through a lecture, presentation, or movie

_______ constantly chew on pens and pencils, chew gum, or smoke cigarettes

_______ prefer foods with very strong tastes and flavors

_______ constantly bite nails or fingers

_______ bite lips or inside of cheeks

_______ frequently shake your leg while sitting or falling asleep

_______ love to sleep with multiple or heavy blankets on top of you

_______ seek out crashing and "squishing" activities

_______ crack knuckles often

_______ love crunchy foods (popcorn, carrots, chips, nuts, pretzels, etc.)

_______ have an "endless" supply of air fresheners, scented candles, odor masking sprays, etc.

_______ identify objects by smell, have to smell everything, judge whether you like something or someone by smell

_______ great difficulty settling body down for sleep

_______ love to touch and be touched, have to touch everything

Sensory Discrimination

_______ can't identify objects by feel if your eyes are closed

_______ difficulty finding things in your purse or pocket without looking

_______ difficulty heating food to the correct temperature, feeling if it is too hot or too cold

_______ difficulty locating items in a cupboard, drawer, in your closet, or on a grocery shelf

_______ difficulty with recognizing/interpreting/following traffic signs

_______ difficulty judging distances about where your car is in relation to other cars, in parking spaces, or near a curb (fail miserably at parallel parking!!)

_______ difficulty merging into oncoming traffic on road, rotary, or highway

_______ get disoriented and/or lost easily in stores, buildings, hiking, etc.

_______ difficulty concentrating on or watching a movie/tv show when there is background noise or distractions

_______ difficulty remembering or understanding what people are telling you

_______ difficulty following directions if given two or three at one time

_______ can not complete concentrated tasks if noises present

_______ talks too loud or too soft

_______ difficulty licking an ice cream cone neatly

_______ difficulty with speech and annunciation

_______ bump into things frequently

_______ often push too hard on objects, accidentally breaking them

_______ difficulty judging how much pressure to apply when doing tasks or picking something up

_______ difficulty identifying which key on your ring belongs to what

_______ often reverse numbers and letters or process them backwards

_______ difficulty telling time on an analogue clock

_______ difficulty reading and understanding a map, bus schedule, directions

_______ difficulty organizing and grouping things by categories, similarities, and/or differences

_______ can't reading text on computer screens

_______ difficulty distinguishing different tastes and/or flavors of food and/or drink items

_______ difficulty lining up numbers correctly for math problems and/or balancing a checkbook

Sensory-Based Motor Abilities

_______ have difficulty learning to ride a bike or other moving equipment

_______ clumsy, uncoordinated, and accident prone

_______ difficulty walking on uneven surfaces

_______ difficulty with fine motor tasks such as buttoning, zipping, tying, knitting, sewing, playing games with small parts, closing zip loc bags

_______ confuse your right and left sides

_______ prefer sedentary tasks, avoiding sports or physical activities

_______ difficulty with handwriting; hard to read, write slowly, get wrist cramps

_______ frequently bump into people and things

_______ easily fatigued with physical tasks

_______ frequently miss when putting objects on a table

_______ messy eater, difficulty using eating utensils, spilling and dropping food frequently

_______ often knock drinks or other things over when reaching for them

_______ frequently drop items

_______ feel the need to talk yourself through tasks

_______ often hum or talk to self while concentrating on a task

_______ significant difficulty learning to tie things (shoes, bags, etc.)

_______ difficulty with motor tasks requiring several steps

_______ difficulty learning new motor tasks (a new dance, sport or exercise activity, how to drive, etc.)

_______ lose balance frequently, maybe even when standing still

_______ significant difficulty learning to type without looking at the keyboard

Social and Emotional

_______ dislike changes in plans or routines, needing structure

_______ often described as "stubborn", "defiant", or "uncooperative"

_______ are very emotional and sensitive, may also be prone to crying

_______ can't seem to finish anything

_______ have difficulty making decisions

_______ are seen as rigid and controlling

_______ prefer solitary activities rather than group participation

_______ are often impatient and/or impulsive

_______ don't always register or understand social cues and non verbal language

_______ difficulty with authority figures

_______ trouble relating to and socializing with peers and colleagues

_______ have difficulty accepting defeat or forgiving yourself

_______ frequently get strong feelings of anger or rage

_______ easily frustrated

_______ needs sameness and routines; needs to know what to expect

_______ get frequent panic or anxiety attacks

_______ have many fears and/or phobias

_______ OCD-type qualities; can't let foods touch each other on your plate, have to wear clothes a certain way, or other obsessions and compulsions.

_______ are easily distractible and often unorganized

_______ hate surprises

_______ difficulty seeking out and maintaining relationships

_______ avoid eye contact

Internal Regulation

_______ difficulty falling asleep or getting on a sleep schedule

_______ heart rate issues, including: unnecessary speeding, not slowing down when at rest, or not speeding up for tasks that require a higher heart rate

_______ respiration too fast or slow for the appropriate state of arousal

_______ over or under sensitivite to bowel and bladder sensations

_______ over or under sensitivite to the sensations of hunger and thurst

_______ irregular, inconsistent bowel, bladder and appetite sensations

_______ difficulty with temperature regulation of body

The above checklist was editted by Dan Travis and reposted from with the original author's permission.

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