Toys can be a great way to interact with your child and to teach new skills. Make learning fun! Visit our Retail Site By Clicking Here

Thursday, September 8, 2016


This is the first part of a multi-part series dealing with the sensory components of Autism, Sensory Issues, and Treatment Plans for children with processing disorders.

Part One:  Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD):  What It Is
Part Two:  How is a Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosed?
Part Three:  Strategies for Treating a Sensory Processing Disorder
Part Four:  Parent Tips for Children with Sensory Processing Disorders or Children on the Autism Spectrum

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)Part One: What It Is

SPD Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction or Sensory Deficit Disorder (SDD), refers to difficulty with accurately interpreting sensory information.  Information about the world around us enters our body through receptors.  We have the ability to receive visual input through visual receptors in our eyes.  Information about touch and temperature is perceived through specialized receptors in our skin.  Our joints give us information about where our limbs are in space (proprioception).  The ability to hear starts with receiving information from the structures in our ears, etc.

Brain Processing Senses

In a body system that is working ideally, information is taken from this variety of sensory receptors and sent to the brain where it is processed, sorted, categorized and interpreted in order to make a response to that information.  For instance, if you hear a police siren, the information is taken to your brain via the hearing system and your brain makes a decision about what you should do with that information and then sends out messages to the rest of the body to make the appropriate actions and reactions.  If you touch a stove, the receptors in your skin fire off information to your brain instantaneously and your brain processes the information received and decides what to do; if the stove is hot, your brain sends the command to pull your arm and body away from the heat so as to reduce the risk of further injury.  If the brain interprets the incoming signals as ‘cold’, it may decide to do nothing.  

In order to comprehend our surroundings and make wise decisions, we need to integrate multiple sensory inputs at once; this is called  Multisensory integration.  This ability to process sensory information is critical for making sense of our world and functioning appropriately.

One of the pioneers in the study of sensory integration is the Occupational therapist, Anna Jean Ayres .  She defined Sensory integration  in 1972 as "the neurological process that organizes sensation from one's own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment".  Her study of sensory processes and work with individuals with sensory issues forms the basis for much of our current treatment strategies.

Individuals with a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) have difficulty receiving, sorting, and interpreting information from the world around them.  Things that are innocuous may seem noxious.  

Difficulty Processing Light
Oversensitve to Taste
Senstive to Noise

Things that are dangerous may not trigger a “flight or fight” response from the brain.  SPD difficulties vary from person to person; some individuals are overwhelmed by sensory information to the point of incapacitation; they are unable to function normally. Others are minimally affected and can function well in society with a few modifications. Children diagnosed with Autism (or on the "Autism Spectrum") frequently struggle with processing sensory information, but a person with a Sensory Processing Disorder is not necessarily Autistic.

Sensory Processing Disorders are often classified in three major types:

  • Sensory Modulation Disorder refers to individuals who seek sensory stimulation due to an under or over response to sensory stimuli.
  • Sensory-Based Motor Disorder refers to individuals who incorrectly process motor information, leading to poor motor skill performance.
  • Sensory Discrimination Disorder refers to individuals who typically have poor postural control, have difficulty attending to tasks and lack body organization.

We will continue this topic with our next blog:

Part TwoHow is a Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosed?

Author:  Trisha Roberts

Copyright © 2016 TNT Inspired Enterprise, LLC, All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

No comments:

Post a Comment