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Sensory Processing Disorder


Causes and Impacts of Sensory Processing Disorder

The exact cause of Sensory Processing Disorder-like the causes of ADHD and so many other neurodevelopmental disorders-has not yet been identified. However, preliminary studies and research suggest some leading contenders (from Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR).

What causes Sensory Processing Disorder is a pressing question for every parent of a child with SPD. Many worry that they are somehow to blame for their child's sensory issues.

"Is it something I did?" parents want to know.

The causes of SPD are among the subjects that researchers at SPD Foundation and their collaborators elsewhere have been studying. Preliminary research suggests that SPD is often inherited. If so, the causes of SPD are coded into the child's genetic material. Prenatal and birth complications have also been implicated, and environmental factors may be involved.

Of course, as with any developmental and/or behavioral disorder, the causes of SPD are likely to be the result of factors that are both genetic and environmental. Only with more research will it be possible to identify the role of each.

A summary of research into causation and prevalence is contained in Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children With Sensory Processing Disorder (New York: Perigee, 2006).

Emotional and Other Impacts of SPD

Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) often have problems with motor skills and other abilities needed for school success and childhood accomplishments. As a result, they often become socially isolated and suffer from low self-esteem and other social/emotional issues

These difficulties put children with SPD at high risk for many emotional, social, and educational problems, including the inability to make friends or be a part of a group, poor self-concept, academic failure, and being labeled clumsy, uncooperative, belligerent, disruptive, or "out of control." Anxiety, depression, aggression, or other behavior problems can follow. Parents may be blamed for their children's behavior by people who are unaware of the child's "hidden handicap."

Effective treatment for SPD is available, but far too many children with sensory symptoms are misdiagnosed and not properly treated. Untreated SPD that persists into adulthood can affect an individual's ability to succeed in marriage, work, and social environments.


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