Is it Behavior or Sensory? Sensory Behavior Checklist

Use this sensory behavior checklist to help you figure out what’s going on with your kiddo!

Have you ever wondered if your child’s behavior is due to just being a kid or is it sensory related?

At the end of the day.. is it behavior or sensory?

As part of the my Voices of Special Needs, Wendy from The Imperfect Mom is sharing a Sensory Behavior Checklist about what the signs of Sensory Processing Disorder are.

Be sure to learn more about Sensory Processing Disorder and my parenting tips on how to support your child with sensory challenges.

Is it Sensory? Sensory Behavior Checklist | Mommy Evolution


When my second son was younger I struggled…A LOT!

He was a very explosive child, cried frequently, was irritable, screamed at everything and I did not deal with it well.

I still remember multiple times when I sat on the couch with glazed look in my eyes, calling my sister, who could only hear the sound of a screaming toddler in the background, pleading for her to come help.

All I knew is that I did not understand him and he was constantly unhappy.

At the time he loved being outside.

As soon as he knew how to ride a trike all he wanted to do was ride in the driveway, over all the cracks, and doing it all while he was BUTT NAKED! :/

He was happy outside and wanted to be out there wall the time.

As much as I knew he loved being outside, I didn’t know WHY until I learned about sensory needs.

Once I learned about sensory needs I was hooked because I realized that his screaming, fits, and tantrums decreased when he had his outside time.

Learning about sensory needs in general was like a gold mine for me, a missing puzzle piece, and an explanation for what my son was experiencing.

I now know how to give him the things he needs to keep his fits at a minimum and understand that when he has a fit it’s probably due to an unmet sensory need.

I want everyone to find the peace I did when I learned about sensory needs.

I want all parents to understand how to meet their child’s needs and minimize difficult behaviors.

Being able to see when my son is struggling and understand how to help him is a skill I wish I would have had when he was little.

Now, I watch him, and see that HE is now learning his sensory needs and is able to integrate certain activities into his routine when he feels a little low.

It’s empowering to have this information.

Is it Sensory? Sensory Behavior Checklist | Mommy Evolution

Is it Behavior or Sensory? Sensory Behavior Checklist

This behavior checklist is not comprehensive.

A great resource with a more comprehensive list of behaviors is the book Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals.

The following is a simple chart outlining common behaviors that suggest an unmet sensory need.

Checklist for Signs of Sensory | Mommy Evolution

Do you see anything that sticks out to you?

Does your child have behaviors that fit into one or more of these categories?

Tips on Getting Sensory Help

In no way is this behavior checklist meant to diagnose any sensory disorder.

Everyone has sensory needs and aversions, which is very normal.

It is good to note these needs and be aware of them to make sure they are being met.

If your child has extreme behaviors in any one category; however, please contact a local pediatric occupational therapist who can help you and your child find the resources necessary to regulate your child’s sensory needs.

U.S. residents: If your child is not yet in elementary school and has behaviors that seem to interfere with daily life, search for  local “Early Intervention” services.

Early Intervention services are provided, in some areas, to children ages 0-3 and sometimes 0-5 years.

In order to qualify for such services a child has to show signs of developmental delay or have a qualifying diagnosis.

It never hurts to contact someone about the services and have your child assessed if you suspect that there is a need.

Even if Early Intervention services are not offered, seek the help of a local Pediatric Occupational Therapist on your own.  

If your child is in elementary school, make sure an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is set in place to meet your child’s sensory needs at school.

I have personal experience with both Early Intervention services as well as Elementary School, I have seen the power of regulating sensory needs in the classroom and at home.

Please don’t hesitate to get your child the services he needs!

Like this behavior checklist? Read more about Sensory Processing Disorder on Mommy Evolution!

And join our inclusive community on The Sensory Spectrum.

About Wendy: I believe that being a Mom is one of the most challenging and rewarding roles in life.

That’s why I help parents to have a mindset that allows them to truly love parenting, understand challenging behavior, and all things sensory.


  1. I think it is misleading to say to parents to get an IEP for sensory needs. In our district and others I know a child does not receive an IEP for sensory needs. They only qualify for an IEP if they are developmental delay, other health impaired (such as ADHD), autistic, speech and language impaired, or multiple disabilities. It needs to affect their access to the curriculum. We also do not have sensory therapy in the schools. Often some of the therapists I work with are lucky to have even a swing or trampoline or their own space for therapy. Outpatient therapy is the best resource for sensory needs as they have the time to work closely with the parents. There needs to be a lot of carryover in the home environment. Even under a 504 plan in our district it allows for accommodations such as sensory breaks but we are not supposed to provide direct services. There is a huge communication issue between local doctors, outpatient clinics, and schools and how therapy is provided. I try to spread the word as much as possible so parents can pursue the proper path.

    1. Julie Hancock says:

      I was going to mention the same thing about getting an IEP. You can’t just go in & ask for one because your child has a sensory delay. Our school district, has started looking at it, however, through Occupational Therapy services, so you could ask to be evaluated that way. For my own daughter, we got a 504 – it didn’t provide services (we were able to take care of that privately), but it does provide accommodations, like extra breaks, being able to type assignments, etc.

      1. True; however, some states and schools are significantly better at giving IEPs. Some kids I thought would never qualify for services got full services through their school and others, who obviously need support, barely got a 504. It really depends on where you are, who you’re working with and which way the wind is blowing.

    2. Children do qualify for an IEP for sensory and schools do provide sensory input. Most people are just ignorant or uneducatef to what sensory actually is.

      1. While I think it would be wonderful, sensory is actually not a reason for an official IEP but rather a 504 for accommodations. And yes, I would agree that a lot of people are also not educated about what sensory actually is.

  2. Right on. Both of my kids have dealt with sensory issues and understanding these needs really opened my eyes and enabled me to help them — and to look at things that once frustrated me in a new light. My 7yo still runs around naked (in the house) most of the time, and he ‘d probably ride his bike naked if he could.

  3. Oh, help me please! I’m wide awake with frustration, at 2a.m, with my middle child. He is 10yrs old and has been ‘awkward’ since conception!!! He never stopped crying for 2 1/2yrs, everything I did wasn’t good enough or simply wasn’t right. I have always said there was something amiss with him but dear husband wouldn’t and still won’t seek help from our doctor… (Another source of my frustration). He used to scream blue murder when I put his socks on, and he isn’t a fan of socks now. Angry bursts, hurting his siblings, alway going too far and exaggerating laughter when being disciplined. He has a need to hurt someone or be destructive at any opportunity. Mouthy isn’t the word for him! He has an opinion and everyone has to hear it. He expects everybody to dance to his tune… The list goes on and on. But on the odd occasion he can be a sweet and considerate, generally with non related younger children and when he can be center of attention. I home school as pressures in school was getting too much (thank you mr Cameron) and now he doesn’t want to learn at all! Things like simple addition he glares at, doesn’t read or listen to instructions and either rushes through the work and makes endless mistakes or flat out refuses to do it. The information I have read on your website more or less fits him to a ‘T’, but is there any help out there (UK), how prevalent is it? And how clued up are doctors to recognise it and give a diagnosis? Dreading the teenage years…

    1. Ange… I certainly can’t speak directly to your case with your son. I do know that with my son, he had sensory issues but as school started, we found him fighting about any work. It turns out he has ADD and Dyslexia. Quite a combo!

      Many people in our community help their kids with their sensory issues by going to a pediatric occupational therapist (it’s not just for toddlers!). But also figure out how you can help your child with his sensory issues at home and also look into to seeing if there are some learning issues going on as well.

    2. You know… I also want to say that I really believe all kids want to be good kids. I know I often wondered about my son. But as we got him more help for his learning disabilities and started ADHD medication, he is still himself but such a happier and more empathic kiddo. He was fighting his body so hard that as we made it easier for him, it showed in how he related to us and felt in his own skin.

  4. Thanks for this and for sharing your experience. We’ve had multiple health care providers and ot’s suggest spd and possible adhd for our 4yo son. He’s being evaluated in January and I’m scared of a diagnosis but hopeful that maybe it will help me learn to help him and restore peace in our family. I’m at my wits end by the end of every day and I just want to be able to enjoy spending time with my children. Thankfully my daughter does not seem to struggle the way he has.

    1. Margaret Gray says:

      My son was diagnosed with Anxiety and Hypersensory disorder(Canada). He just turned 5 and started school in September. I have been told he’s doing well.
      He has seen a psychiatrist for some suicidal comments he made plus he seems fascinated by death, dying, killing and other morbid things. He talks violently about hurting other if they are rude or mean to him. I’m just wondering if anyone else has dealt with these issues?

  5. My kids do / have almost all of these things. Interesting.
    As a kid I was freaked out by suede and the smell of sausages and boiling milk made me react badly.
    Both sons react badly to smells such as new car, air freshener and bitumen.
    One is obsessed with soft fluffy blankets and certain fabrics are out of the question.
    He’s the king of tippy toe.
    Many other things too.
    They are 14 and 12.
    Maybe this is who we are.
    Isn’t everyone like this ?
    I’m shocked people aren’t.
    I think we’re normal.
    Maybe I’m nuts ! lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *