A. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), also called Dysfunction of Sensory Integration (DSI), is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children. These children misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound and movement. Some feel bombarded by sensory information; others seek out intense sensory experiences or have other problems. The results of good sensory integration allows the individual to respond to sensory and environmental demands with adaptive and appropriate emotional and behavioral responses. It is the process of sensory integration, the ability to synthesize, organize and process incoming sensory information from the body and the environment, which helps the individual to make purposeful, goal-directed responses. Problems with sensory integration can lead to behavioral problems, difficulties with coordination, body scheme, self image, balance, postural stability, hand use, eye-hand coordination, speech and oral motor related problems and other issues.
Q. Are there different types of Sensory Processing Disorders?
A. Yes, there are several different types of Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD); each one may result in a number of different behavioral and sensory patterns. SPD may be subdivided into a Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD) characterized by sensory over-responsivity, sensory under-responsivity, or sensory craving behaviors, a Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD), or Sensory-Based Motor Disorder (SBMD) which may be classified as either Postural Disorder or Dyspraxia.
Q. Can a child with autism also have Sensory Processing Disorder?
A. In many circles it is a recognized fact that children with autism either receive or integrate sensory information within their nervous systems differently than other children. Difficulty integrating sensory information can impact social, emotional, motor and a child’s ability to function. This results in difficulties within several of the subcategories seen within SPD. Sensory Modulation Difficulties are often seen in which these children. He may over respond to sensory information that is not bothersome to others such as the sound of music or a vacuum cleaner or may fear movement or being in crowded or noisy environments. He may under-respond, being passive with a low registration in which nothing seems to get in. He may be a sensory seeker, constantly on the move seeking constant sensory inputs in various forms. Sensory Discrimination Disorders often coexist with a SMD. The child may have difficulty interpreting the message within the sensory system. Auditory and tactile discrimination difficulties are often seen as the child may have difficulty telling what is in his hand without looking at it, differentiating different textures in his hand or mouth, or identifying or distinguishing between sounds, words or hearing in noisy environment. Sensory-based motor disorders, postural disorders and dyspraxia, can impact his balance, coordination and ability to actively engage in play and social environments. The impact dyspraxia can have on the child’s ability to interact with toys, others, and everyday interactions is pervasive. To learn more about SPD in autism click here.
Q. Does a child with Sensory Processing Disorder always end up with a diagnosis of autism?
A. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can occur in anyone. It can occur alone or in conjunction with other diagnosis such as autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without hyperactivity (ADD or ADHD), or other genetic disorders. However, many children with a Sensory Processing Disorder do not have any other diagnosis.