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 →
Book: No Longer A SECRET: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory or Motor Challenges
Amazon Description: This invaluable resource by Dr Lucy Jane Miller and Doreit Bialer helps teach cost effective, functional, on the spot tips to use for children with sensory issues at home, at school, or in a community setting.
Any parent, teacher, or therapist can use this book and help a child with sensory or motor issues!
On February 19, PBS aired an investigative report that stated Adam Lanza, the young man who killed 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut in December, had been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) as a young child.
SPD is a neurological disorder that disrupts the daily lives of children, causing challenges with social participation, self-regulation and self-esteem. Research has shown 5-10 percent of all children have SPD.
Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR, founder and research director of the SPD Foundation, was interviewed by ABC.com to give her response to the investigative report. During this interview Dr. Miller explained SPD and the vital importance of support for the individuals and families impacted by this disorder. See the full story at abcnews.com.
“Although we deplore the reason SPD has now come into the national spotlight, we appreciate the opportunity to explain SPD, and how parents and their children with SPD need the support of the educational and medical communities,” stated Dr. Lucy Jane Miller.
The response to our fill in the blank was overwhelming. There were more than 250 comments! So I think we’ll have to do something every month. I whittled them down to the top 15. And trust me, it wasn’t easy!
Finish this sentence…
“You know you’re an SPD mom when ____.”
You run everywhere instead of walking. — Megan W.
You can spot another child with SPD in a crowd. — Jeannine O.T.
You automatically put your hands over your child’s ears when the train is coming. — Nanda G.
Another parent says so-and-so is ‘always mentioning’ your child, and you think, oh, gosh, why?! — Charlotte E.
‘Vestibular’ and ‘proprioceptive’ are words you use daily. — Amy L.S.
You are not sure what size your kid wears because you have cut the tags out of all their clothes. — Jeannine O.T.
My daughter licks windows, and while people are shocked, I pretend like nothing unusual is happening behind me. — Dawn D.
When you lay awake at night for hours imagining what witty comment you should have said to the judgmental lady at the store. — Beth P.
When you start diagnosing your friends’ kids because you’ve read so much on the subject trying to help your own. — Jessica K.C.
You’ve grown oblivious to the looks and comments about your child wearing sunglasses in stores. — Amy L.S.
When you have five pairs of the exact same pants because they’re the only ones that feel “right.” — Brenna W.
“Mommy can you brush me”? Takes on a whole new meaning. — Megan W.
Your child wants you to hold them but doesn’t want you to touch them at the same time. — Martrisse H.
Your kids won’t go in the water but will happily lick the pool fence for hours. — Suzie R.
You see someone else’s kid throwing a tantrum and smile because it’s not yours. — Angie C.J.
Thank you for the outpouring reaction to the first official month of Voices of Sensory Processing Disorder. We’ve had some amazing pieces published this past month! Be sure to listen and find out how these Voices can help you find your own.
Hello friends. It’s time to rip off the Band-aide and just start. No more excuses. No more thinking. Just do it already, Jennifer! After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one simple step. So I offer you Voices of Sensory Processing Disorder.
For the first year we knew my son had Sensory Processing Disorder, we didn’t exactly hide it but I didn’t talk about it publicly. Then, once I started letting friends know about it, I decided it was better to be honest than to try to hide the fact that we were facing SPD as a family.
I was recently inspired by a hater who thinks I’m “CRAZY” because I write this blog. This opened my eyes to the fact that there are probably many people who think I’m crazy for airing my dirty laundry onto the Internet, and I felt the need to step onto my soapbox for a moment. Thank you for humoring me.
There’s a lot I don’t understand about SPD (and probably never will), but I know my son copes with his intolerances, discomfort, fears and anxieties with rules. A lot of rules. As his Mama, it turns out that I have rules, too.
Has anyone ever heard of sensory processing disorder? Well, I sure as hell never did. Sensory Processing Disorder is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever encountered in my life. It sounds like something some sick bastard invented to tell kids to scare them in an attempt to get them to behave.
Last Christmas my sister bought Mr. Sensitive a new winter coat. It was thick and warm and had Mr. Sensitive’s favorite race cars on it. He looked at the pictures on his coat and returned to playing with his new Christmas toys. I thanked my sister for the expensive gift. No big deal, my husband and I thought. He can try it on later. Were we ever wrong.
In 2010, after getting accepted into graduate school to obtain my Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling, I started work with a new therapist, and my life changed. I told her about my history and described that maybe I had something wrong with me sensory-wise. Before our second session was over, we were on her laptop, and I was taking a quiz to see if I had sensory issues. And why yes. Yes, I did.
Visiting the local library, I noticed the shelves of books preparing tots for their first day of kindergarten. But I had to wonder, where are the books preparing the parents for the first day of kindergarten? This momentous move is presented as a rite of passage for our five and six year olds. But we parents are often overlooked. Isn’t this a rite of passage for us as well? And today holds great significance for SPD parents.
I have NLD. Nonverbal learning disabilities (or anydisability) is like a mountain between where you are and where you want to go. But there are ways to attack the mountain of sensory overload problems and ways of coping.
What words of advice can I offer after going through all of this? To parents: trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone. Don’t let the judgemental looks or well-meant comments question yourself.
She took it upon herself to plug her nose when everyone at her table was eating bologna sandwiches. I was beyond excited for her! Excited that she learned a few coping skills all on her own! That she didn’t isolate herself from everyone else. It was a pretty proud mama bear moment for me.
For those of you whose children were diagnosed recently, I recommend you start a sensory diet. I really thought this was about food at first. I had never heard of this before. When the Neuropsychologist who diagnosed Adrian suggested a sensory diet, I asked which foods he meant. A sensory diet are activities that help your child process sensory input.
Book: The Goodenoughs Get in Sync: 5 Family Members Overcome their Special Sensory Issues
Amazon Description: This delightfully illustrated “chapter book,” geared for 8-to-12 year olds, tells the charming tale of five family members and their naughty dog (each with a different sensory processing challenge), and how they get in sync after a tough day. The book is designed with the action of the story in larger print for younger readers to read or hear. Explanations of sensory processing issues are woven throughout the story in regular type for proficient readers to linger over at leisure.
Everyone with sensory issues will find a character with whom to identify. Darwin, 11, is over-responsive to sensory stimulation. Edward, 5, is under-responsive. Teen-aged Carrie has difficulties with dyspraxia. The father, Andy, has sensory discrimination issues. The mother, Betsy, and the dog, Filibuster, are definitely sensory seekers.
The Goodenoughs explain what they need to do to function successfully, and at the end of the day, they all get back in sync. Readers will appreciate descriptions and illustrations of activities that they can replicate in their own homes or classrooms. The Goodenoughs Get in Sync, first edition, was the winner of an i-Parenting Media Award and was a Finalist for ForeWord Magazine‘s 2005 Book of the Year for juvenile non-fiction.
Book: No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior
Amazon Description: Author of the award-winning Social Skills Picture Book series, Dr. Jed Baker offers parents and teachers strategies for preventing and managing meltdowns. His 20+ years of experience working with children on the autism spectrum, combined with his personal experiences raising his own children, have yielded time-tested strategies, and results!
Dr. Baker offers an easy-to-follow, 4-step model that will improve your everyday relationships with the children in your life: 1) Managing your own emotions by adjusting your expectations, 2) Learning strategies to calm a meltdown in the moment, 3) Understanding why a meltdown occurs, and 4) Creating plans to prevent future meltdowns.
Book: The Worst Day of My Life Ever! (Best Me I Can Be)
Amazon Description: RJ has a rough day. He wakes up with gum stuck in his hair, misses recess because he’s late to school, earns a zero on his math homework and messes up Mom’s kitchen. With his mother’s help, RJ learns that his problems happen because he doesn’t listen or pay attention to directions.
Author Julia Cook’s new book shows RJ as well as all K-6 readers the steps to the fundamental social skills of listening and following instructions. When RJ learns to use these skills the right way, he has the best day of his life!
Book: Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Amazon Description: By the time she turned two, Jaimie was so fearful of her world they spent most days inside. What was wrong with Chynna’s miracle girl? Why wouldn’t anyone help her figure it out? Jaimie wasn’t “just spirited” as her physician suggested nor did she lack discipline at home. When Jaimie was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at two-and-a-half, Chynna thought she had “the answer,” but that was just the start of a three-year quest for the right treatments to bring the Jaimie she loved so much out for others to see. With the right diagnosis and treatment suited to Jaimie, this family finally felt hope. Not Just Spirited is one mother’s journey to finding peace for her daughter, Jaimie. As Chynna says often, “Knowledge breeds understanding. And that’s so powerful.”