Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Processing
Please print out and display. Autism Awarness = Autism Acceptance
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties with processing information from the five senses: vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste, as well as from the sense of movement (vestibular system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception). For those with SPD, sensory information is sensed, but perceived abnormally. Unlike blindness or deafness, sensory information is received by people with SPD; the difference is that information is processed by the brain in an unusual way that causes distress, discomfort, and confusion.
Although a sensory processing disorder is not considered a qualifying characteristic for a diagnosis of autism, I have yet to meet a person on the autism spectrum who does not have a challenge in this area. In interviewing adults and teenagers of different ability levels for my book, Autism Life Skills (Penguin 2008), most of them stated sensory processing challenges as the number one difficulty for them, regardless of where they were on the spectrum.
Does this mean that if a person has a sensory processing disorder, he or she has autism? No, it does not. People may experience a sensory processing disorder, but not show any diagnostic signs of autism.
Click the image or link below to see a beautiful animation that helps explain sensory overload for a child on the spectrum.
Below are a few infographics about sensory processing issues that many children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder encounter. Hanging them in public places where parents and children frequently gather greatly enhances awareness.