SENSORY PROCESSING, formerly known as “sensory integration" is a neurological process that refers to the way the central nervous system receives information from the sensory organs and organizes them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, or "sensory integration dysfunction") is a diagnostic term that describes a condition in which the information sent from the senses are misinterpreted and misdirected by the brain, and therefore, are not effectively processed and organized into appropriate responses. A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., renowned Occupational Therapist and Neuroscientist, described SPD as a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.
People with SPD* find it difficult to process and react to information received through the senses, creating challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Difficulty taking in or interpreting this sensory information can lead to motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other problems in daily functioning. There is a very broad spectrum of severity among those diagnosed with SPD, and it can affect any combination of sensory systems. The disorder presents itself by impacting an individual’s response to sensory information from the affected sensory system or systems.
While SPD can be challenging and overwhelming, our approach to it is not!
We know that one manifestation of SPD is an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive.
The goal of treatment for children with SPD is to get neural “traffic” flowing smoothly so that they can participate in the normal activities of daily life and enjoy the social and emotional rewards that come with success.
We think that most children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) are just as intelligent as their peers. In fact, we see many who are intellectually gifted; their brains simply just process sensory stimuli differently.
In a study of children born between July 1995 and September 1997 in the New Haven, CT area 16% of 7 to 11 year olds had symptoms of SPD-SOR (Ben-Sasson et al., 2009). That is the same as 1 in 6 children. An earlier study in younger children (Ahn et al., 2004) found a prevalence of 5%, which is 1 in 20 children.