What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

About Sensory Processing Disorder

The exact cause of Sensory Processing Disorder–like the causes of ADHD and so many other neurodevelopmental disorders–has not yet been identified. However, preliminary studies and research suggest some leading contenders.

– from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (2014) by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR

Sensory processing refers to the way our nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into various motor and behavioral responses. Activities like eating, walking, or reading require accurate processing of sensation.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), exists when sensory signals are either not detected or don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Think of it like a neurological “traffic jam” that stops parts of the brain from receiving information needed to process sensory information correctly. A person with SPD may have a difficult time trying to process and act upon that information, even with everyday tasks. Poor gross motor skills, behavioral problems, hearing problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and many other problems may impact those who do not have effective treatment.

Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder occur within a broad spectrum of severity. While most of us have occasional difficulties processing sensory information, for children, adolescents, and adults with SPD, these difficulties are chronic, and they can disrupt everyday life in a major way.


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