Sensory Processing Disorder (or SPD) can present in a number of different ways. Its effect is different from person to person, which is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to diagnose accurately. Misdiagnosis is all too common. For example, if a child presents with depression or anxiety, he or she might be diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD). It doesn’t help that so many children who have attention deficit disorder also have sensory processing disorder.
If a misdiagnosis occurs, then the depression and anxiety won’t be alleviated until the cause of the symptoms is addressed. Many who haven’t been properly diagnosed will self-medicate, a dangerous trend in adults and children who grow up with these disorders.
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds won’t do a thing to treat the real cause of the depression, which can in turn compound its effects. Education is important when trying to set things right. Once properly diagnosed with the correct disorder, a patient can gradually be weaned off the wrong meds in order to receive the right ones later. Some kids with attention deficit disorder will find that stimulants help them focus or cope with, although others will find the drugs interfere with personality.
First, you’ll want to pay attention to your child’s reactions to various stimuli as they grow up. Do they have abnormal reactions to taking drugs or simple actions that involve tactile sensations like washing hair? What about walking around barefoot? Kids with SPD might not be so easy to diagnose, because they can sometimes go from one extreme to another without warning. At one point they might endure sensory overload, while at another they may desire more sensation because their senses have been dulled.
Scientists at the Sensory Processing Treatment and Research Center in Denver, Colorado, believe that over half of children with either disorder actually have both.
The earlier you can retrieve the right diagnosis and provide your child with the right occupational therapy, investigative analysis, and social training based on individual symptoms, the sooner the child will adapt to fit into society normally. Symptoms of SPD can be managed or eliminated over time, but it’s important to fight those symptoms as early as possible.