Sensory processing disorders (SPD) are more prevalent in children than autism and as common as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, yet the condition receives far less attention partly because it’s never been recognized as a distinct disease.
In a groundbreaking new study from UC San Francisco, researchers have found that children affected with SPD have quantifiable differences in brain structure, for the first time showing a biological basis for the disease that sets it apart from other neurodevelopmental disorders.
One of the reasons SPD has been overlooked until now is that it often occurs in children who also have ADHD or autism, and the disorders have not been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists.
“Until now, SPD hasn’t had a known biological underpinning,” said senior author Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and bioengineering at UCSF. “Our findings point the way to establishing a biological basis for the disease that can be easily measured and used as a diagnostic tool,” Mukherjee said.
(The image above shows areas of the brain that can be affected by sensory processing disorders. Using an advanced form of MRI, researchers at UCSF have identified abnormalities in the brain structure of children with SPD primarily in the back of the brain.) Continue reading →
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Lots of parents in our community are asking how they can know if their kiddo has Sensory Processing Disorder. I believe, as a parent of two SPD kids, the best way is to visit a pediatric occupational therapist for a complete evaluation. Our pediatrician didn’t know enough to help guide us to even considering SPD. And when we saw a neurologist… well, she asked if I needed a referral to an OT. We found a terrific group by asking friends if they knew anyone in the area with Aspergers or Autism because kids with these neurological challenges often have sensory challenges as well.