How To Expertly Misdiagnose Sensory Processing Disorder

Kids who are on the spectrum or have another behavioral or developmental disorder are already at increased risk for alcoholism, drug use, and depression. That’s because life is a lot harder when you can’t fit in without the extra effort. Considering this fact, sometimes we need to step aside from teaching kids and parents how to address SPD — and instead focus on the doctors who sometimes misdiagnose it. With all the challenges kids face these days, there’s no need to add another by mistake.

Those who suffer from SPD usually have issues with perception and coordination. Why? It’s because of the way our bodies are built to function. Take for example that a person’s brainstem helps to process information on its way to the brain, where it will be integrated, filtered, and organized. Most kids (and adults) with forms of SPD have trouble with that part of the equation. We can process the information without thinking about it. But they think about it.

Think about what it would be like if you actively contemplated each breath. We can think about breathing. But eventually as we go about our daily business we forget. Breathing is background noise. It’s something we do without giving it too much thought. If we had to think about breathing in and out every second of every day, problems might develop. That’s what it’s like for kids with sensory issues. They feel more than we do in one way or another.

That’s not to say that every case of SPD is a misdiagnosis of a physical issue, but sometimes there are cases in which actual injuries are to blame. When these injuries are not found or are ignored, SPD-like symptoms can develop. What a simple visit to a doctor, physical therapist, or spine specialist could have fixed in the blink of an eye is instead remedied with years of education and personal development training — something that doesn’t always work.

One of the most common overlooked problems that contribute to misdiagnosis of SPD is a traumatic birth injury. These most often involve the upper neck or brainstem. They’re overlooked because at birth, there is no way to tell whether developmental issues are the result of an actual injury or simple genetics. It’s different when someone suffers an injury when they’re older because they’ve already developed enough for you to diagnose that something is wrong — which means it’s easier to find a doctor who cares.

It’s also possible that these birth-related injuries can lead to SPD. If treated immediately, those symptoms might never develop. Health care providers aren’t always trained to diagnose or treat these issues, which means parents should keep an eye out themselves. We know it’s difficult to learn absolutely everything there is to know about SPD, but this one is important. 

What are the warning signs? Some you might not expect! They include: ear and sinus infections, constipation, gas pains, reflux, poor balance, falls and fall-related injuries, etc. Birth injuries are more common among those who received a C-section or some other sort of intervention while in labor.