Friday, August 1, 2014

Brain Differences in Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism

This week, a mom I work with asked if I thought her son had Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). I was surprised, not only because I don't think he has SPD, but many people, especially parents, don't even know enough to ask about SPD. She admitted that after entering symptoms into Google, autism and SPD came up. She didn't think that her son fit into the autism category and wanted to know more about SPD.

Cue perfect timing of an article publication! The University of California San Francisco released an article on the brain images of children with Sensory Processing Disorder and autism. They found overlap in the areas that show a difference in processing, but also that there are distinct areas for each diagnosis. This is huge for the SPD community! Finally, evidence that SPD is something different than autism.

The authors of this article state:
"Children with SPD struggle with how to process stimulation, which can cause a wide range of symptoms including hypersensitivity to sound, sight and touch, poor fine motor skills and easy distractibility. Some SPD children cannot tolerate the sound of a vacuum, while others can’t hold a pencil or struggle with emotional regulation. Furthermore, a sound that is an irritant one day can be tolerated the next."

Sensory Processing Disorder can be a tricky diagnosis, especially since many professionals are unsure of the distinction between SPD and autism. This article is a huge step in spreading awareness, and future research into this diagnosis.

For more information about the study and brain imaging, read the full article here.

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Shelly wishes she was small enough to fit into the pop-up tunnel she bought for her OT sessions, the kids had a blast in it this week!

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