Types of Sensory Processing Disorders: Part 1

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) may affect only one sense, like hearing or sight, or it can impact multiple senses. For example,  a child may react strongly to different textures of clothing while another may over-respond to loud sounds. Many children who have SPD are not immediately diagnosed with the condition as the disorder can be mistaken for ADHD. Many people reach adulthood without a proper diagnosis and may struggle with the symptoms of the disorder.

There are three subtypes of SPD: sensory modulation disorder, sensory-based motor disorder, and sensory discrimination disorder. In today’s post we’ll be reviewing 2 subtypes of SPD: sensory modulation disorder and sensory-based motor disorder.

Primary Pattern



Sensory Modulation Disorder Difficulty regulating responses to sensory stimuli
Sensory Over-Responsive Predisposition to respond too much, too soon, or for too long to sensory stimuli most people find quite tolerable
Sensory Under-Responsive Predisposition to be unaware of sensory stimuli, to have a delay before responding, responses are muted or responds with less intensity compared to the average person
Sensory Craving Driven to obtain sensory stimulation, but getting the stimulation results in disorganization and does not satisfy the drive for more
Sensory-Based Motor Disorder Difficulty with balance, motor coordination, and the performance of skilled, non-habitual and/or habitual motor tasks
Postural Disorder Impaired perception of position of body position; poorly developed movement patterns that depend on core stability. Thus, appears weak and/or has poor endurance
Dyspraxia Difficulty thinking of, planning and/or executing skilled movements especially novel movement patterns

*Subtypes of SPD from the STAR Institute

This is really just a basic overview. SPD can affect all 8 senses and present in a variety of combinations. In future posts, we’ll talk about what the 8 senses are and sensory discrimination disorder.


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