What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

imagesSensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can also be referred to as Sensory Integration (SI). Both names refer to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses, and turns these messages into motor movements or behavioral responses. We are constantly receiving messages from our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing), which require our brain to interpret and create a reaction. When the signals cannot organize themselves correctly an individual can experience SPD.

 SPD can involve only one sense or it can involve many senses. Individuals can be over-responsive to sensation and find certain clothing or sounds to be unbearable. Other individuals may be under-responsive to sensation and extreme cold, or pain would not bother them. Children with SPD often get misdiagnosed with ADHD because the symptoms may be similar.

Occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists can work together to treat SPD, and create individualized therapy plans based on a child’s needs. It is very important for parents to be involved in the therapy process because they can help their child in different environments. Therapists and parents can work closely together to help a child and discover together what works in different situations. Some research shows that SPD can be genetic, however environmental factors can cause SPD as well. More research is needed on this topic and will hopefully become available in the years to come.


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