Sensory Processing Disorder: Not a Stand-Alone Condition

Sensory Processing Disorder: Not a Stand-Alone Condition

Occupational therapists often provide sensory integration therapy, which helps children who are sensitive to touch and sound.  This therapy helps children adapt to external stimuli; while doctors do agree that occupational therapy helps with the symptoms, they caution that sensory processing disorder is actually a sign of an underlying problem.

Doctors say sensory processing disorder is not a stand-alone condition, but rather it is a part of other conditions, including autism, anxiety, and ADHD.  At this time, there are really no research studies that suggest that sensory processing disorder is its own diagnosis that is separate from other conditions.  Doctors and researchers are recommending that pediatricians and therapists do not use the term “sensory processing disorder” as its own diagnosis but rather as a means for evaluating other developmental conditions.

Children with autism, ADHD, and other developmental disabilities might often feel aversion to particular types of clothing or might cover their ears when they hear a loud sound.  These responses to sensory stimuli are often termed “sensory processing disorder,” but researchers are saying that the behavior of these children is not necessarily related to a problem in brain pathways, as the term tends to imply.

While there perhaps should not be a separate diagnosis, occupational therapists say that sensory-related treatment can still be effective in helping children with these underlying issues.  Researchers in support of the idea that sensory processing disorder is not its own diagnosis also say there is limited research supporting sensory integration therapy.  However, many doctors and therapists do see positive change in their clients, and the area of sensory integration therapy shows great potential for future research.

Researchers currently suggest that parents should be objective and ask themselves whether or not the treatment is actually working for their children.  In the absence of controlled clinical trials, sensory integration therapy must prove itself on a case-by-case basis.  Sensory integration therapy should also not be a stand-alone treatment, but rather a part of a well-rounded treatment plan.

Photo by Heep Hong Society

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Written by: Cara Batema See other articles by Cara Batema
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