A Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

originally published on Harkla.co

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Did you know that there are actually 8 sensory systems in your body, not just 5? Our bodies take information in through sensory systems: auditory (sound/hearing), visual (sight), olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), tactile (touch), vestibular (movement), proprioception (input from muscles and joints), and interoception (internal sensors indicating physiological conditions).

Sensory Integration is the process your central nervous system goes through when it takes information in from your body’s 8 senses, processes that information, and then responds accordingly. When one’s central nervous system has difficulty processing any of this sensory information, the body’s responses are atypical and can be observed in motor, language, or behavioral skill difficulties. Occupational therapists diagnose these atypicalities as Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD.

When we talk about Sensory Processing Dysfunction (SPD), occupational therapists diagnose 3 subtypes of SPD: Sensory Modulation Disorder, Sensory-Based Motor Disorder, and Sensory Discrimination Disorder. It is likely that people with sensory processing dysfunction demonstrate a combination of symptoms from the subtypes, however, a trained OT will know how to address the different deficit areas in Sensory Integration Therapy.

If you’re a parent struggling to understand how your child’s sensory system works, what it all means for your everyday life, and how to help, we’ve tried to outline some of the basics to help you make “sense” of it all! And, since OTs often use visuals to help with SPD kids, we’ve put together a visual of SPD just for you!