What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

In-Sync Therapy specializes in evaluating and providing services to the parents of children with the Sensory Modulation Disorder subtype of Sensory Processing Disorder. (See: Sensory Processing and Behavior Checklist)

 Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction, is often misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is a developmental disorder in which the child has difficulty integrating, interpreting, organizing and using sensory information to respond effectively to the demands of everyday life at home, at school, and in the community. There are three identified subtypes of Sensory Processing Disorder, however, many children diagnosed with SPD show features of two or more subtypes. Most children on the autism spectrum display characteristics of the Sensory Modulation Disorder subtype of SPD.

Sensory Processing Disorder Subtypes

Sensory Modulation Disorder, also called sensory defensiveness or sensory over-responsivity, is an aversive response to ordinary stimuli due to an unconscious misinterpretation of the sensations as dangerous. Children with Sensory Modulation Disorder may show aversive responses to any stimuli but over-responsivity to tactile and auditory stimuli are most common. The sense of being in danger or threatened by these “safe” stimuli can trigger a child’s physiological fight-flight-freeze stress response and result in increased emotional outbursts, impulsivity, low frustration tolerance, and  impaired executive function skills such as attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and self-control. This sense of being threatened can also result in a strong need for predictability and control.

Sensory Discrimination Disorder is characterized by difficulty in detecting and discerning the nature of sensory stimuli and responding to it appropriately. The child may be under-responsive or slow to respond to stimuli and seek increased sensory input. Children with Sensory Discrimination Disorder have diminished capacity to use sensory information for learning, motor control, and skill development.

Sensory-Based Motor Disorder

Postural Disorder (also called Bilateral Integration and Sequencing Deficits) is a cluster of sensory motor difficulties involving problems with postural control and the integration of the two sides of the body necessary to support the development of gross and fine motor skills. This cluster of deficits is associated with poor proximal stability, low muscle tone, and poor functional use of vision.

Dyspraxia, also called Deficit in Motor Planning, is difficulty in planning, sequencing, and executing unfamiliar actions. It results in awkward, poorly coordinated motor skills and poor ability to organize and generalize learned skills to other similar tasks. Children with dyspraxia have problems with daily life tasks like dressing or using eating utensils, difficulty learning new motor tasks and following multi-step directions, and they are often easily frustrated. These children may try to talk other people into doing thing for them because they are afraid they may not be able to effectively accomplish the task for themselves.