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Everything about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a condition that affects how your brain processes sensory information (stimuli). Sensory information includes things you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. SPD can affect all of your senses.

For example, you feel soft things are hard like a rock while people find them soft. Or maybe you find the sound too loud but actually it normal for other people.

Children are more likely than adults to have SPD. But adults can have symptoms, too. In adults, it’s likely these symptoms have existed since childhood.

How does it work?

Proprioceptive receptors are located in the joints and ligaments, allowing for motor control and posture. The proprioceptive system tells the brain where the body is in relation to other objects and how to move.

Masters, E. C., Antshel, K. M., Kates, W. R., & Russo, N. (2023). Brief Report: Sensory Features Associated with Autism After Controlling for ADHD Symptoms. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Along with touch, hearing, taste, smell and sight, Dr. Ayres added the “internal” senses of body awareness (proprioception) and movement (vestibular). When the brain can’t synthesize all this information coming in simultaneously, “It’s like a traffic jam in your head,” Peske says, “with conflicting signals quickly coming from all directions, so that you don’t know how to make sense of it all.”


  • Screaming if their faces get wet

  • Throwing tantrums when you try to get them dressed

  • Having an unusually high or low pain threshold

  • Crashing into walls and even people

  • Putting inedible things, including rocks and paint, into their mouths

  • Think clothing feels too scratchy or itchy

  • Think lights seem too bright

  • Think sounds seem too loud

  • Think soft touches feel too hard

  • Experience food textures that make them gag

  • Have poor balance or seem clumsy

  • Are afraid to play on the swings

  • React poorly to sudden movements, touches, loud noises, or bright lights

What causes sensory processing disorder?

Doctors don’t know what causes SPD. They’re exploring a genetic link, which means it could run in families. Some doctors believe there could be a link between autism and SPD. This could mean that adults who have autism could be more likely to have children who have SPD. But it’s important to note that most people who have SPD don’t have autism. SPD can’t be prevented or avoided because doctors don’t know what causes it.

Sensory processing disorder treatment

Treatment is usually done through therapy. Research shows that starting therapy early is key for treating SPD. Therapy can help children learn how to manage their challenges.



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