Friday, July 12, 2024

What Is The Difference Between Autism And Sensory Processing Disorder

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Myth #: Kids With Sensory Processing Issues Lack Self

What is the difference between Autism and Sensory Processing disorder ? | Kim Barthel | Reena Singh

Fact: Sensory processing issues can make it harder for kids to respond appropriately to sensory input. That may look like a lack of self-control. However, its an in-the-moment response, not a lack of self-control. For instance, oversensitive kids may try to get away from a certain stimulation because it can trigger a meltdown, much like you might pull your hand away from an open flame.

They may bump into people because of motor skills challenges. Or they may crash into things or fidget with objects when they seek out sensations.

Theres A Lot Of Sensory Information To Process

This video shows the sheer amount of sensory inputs in our environment every day.; It considers just how much information someone with ASD and sensory processing disorder has to process as they move through a normal day.; Its useful to think about your childs day and what sensory inputs they are experiencing.; We explore sensory overload in more depth here.

What Is Sensory Disorder

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  • Have you been told that your child has a sensory disorder? Maybe a teacher, occupational therapist, psychologist or doctor mentioned it?;

    Its scary to hear and know that something is wrong with your child.;Its frightening to hear words you may have never heard before describe your childs symptoms.;;

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    What Are The 3 Patterns Of Sensory Processing Disorders

    The severity and symptoms of sensory processing problems greatly vary from one person to another.

    These problems can occur in any of the senses, be it visual, auditory, smell or interoception.

    There have been three patterns of sensory processing disorders identified, consisting of six subtypes of SPD.

    Most of the individuals with the SPD have a combination of symptoms from more than one subtype.

    The following chart will give a basic idea.

    Sex Differences In Sensory Processing In Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder


    Service des Troubles du Spectre de l’Autisme et apparentés, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland


    Anne Manuela Maillard, Service des Troubles du Spectre de l’Autisme et apparentés CHUV, Les Allières, Av. de Beaumont 23, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.

    Service des Troubles du Spectre de l’Autisme et apparentés, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland


    Anne Manuela Maillard, Service des Troubles du Spectre de l’Autisme et apparentés CHUV, Les Allières, Av. de Beaumont 23, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.

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    What About Sensory Processing Disorder In Adults

    Adults have sensory processing disorders too.; Most often, these sensory symptoms have existed since childhood.; Sometimes a sensory disorder is better managed in adulthood because adults have greater autonomy over their daily life and can choose to live their life in a way that avoids some sensory challenges. Nevertheless, adults can seek treatment too.

    A Glimpse Of Sensory Processing Disorder

    What does this phenomenon look like in everyday life? Well, it may look very familiar to you as a parent. The symptoms of SPD overlap with stereotypically autistic behaviors.

    Though SPD isnt part of the formal diagnostic criteria for autism, sensory issues are prevalent among the ASD population.

    Do you recognize your child in these descriptions? ;

    • One morning, your son is comfortable with brushing his teeth. However, the next morning he protests that the toothpaste is too spicy or that the bristles are too sharp.
    • One afternoon, your daughter enjoys the sound of classical music playing on the car speakers at a preset volume. But the next day, she exclaims that the very same volume level is too loud and that it hurts her ears.

    If these examples hit home, know that your child with autism isnt trying to manipulate or gaslight you. Children with SPD really do experience sensory input differently from day to day. At times they struggle to process accustomed sights, sounds, tastes, scents, or touches.

    As is the case with autism, SPD impacts every area of functioning. It affects everything from socialization to academics.

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    Do Attention Abilities Alone Predict Group Membership

    The second discriminant analysis evaluated how well the two attention domains alone could correctly classify each childs group membership. Function 1 significantly separated the TD group from the ASD and SPD groups ; however, the second function separating the ASD and SPD groups was not significant . The function correctly classified 52.2% of all participants compared to their group membership. The TD group had 58.3% correct classification, while 54.2% of children with ASD were correctly classified and 42.9% of children with SPD were correctly classified.

    Sensory Processing Disorder The Ultimate Guide

    AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER SYMPTOMS // Is it sensory processing or autism?

    Autism spectrum disorder is named due to the spectrum of disorders within the category. These would include autistic disorder, aspergers syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .

    The causes for autism are not known, however some factors may be biological or genetic Environmental factors have also been considered, and the prescription drugs, valproic acid or thalidomide, while used in pregnancy, have been associated with a higher risk.

    While there is no cure for autism, early treatment is better for development, with therapy aiding in speech delays, walking, and social interaction. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that a child under the age of 36 months who may have a developmental delay could possibly qualify for services within their local district.

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    Connections Between Sensory Processing Disorder And Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Some experts have found that over 80% of children with autism also have sensory processing disorder, and the DSM-5 includes hyper or hypo reactivity to sensory input, listing this as one of the behaviors associated with ASD.

    The STAR Institute for Sensory Processing in Colorado has conducted studies finding that at least three quarters of children with autistic spectrum disorders have significant symptoms of sensory processing disorder, and probably more depending on how significant symptoms are defined. Yet, many studies show that the reciprocal of this discovery is not a fact. Most children who have SPD do not have ASD.

    Roya Ostovar, PhD, is the Director of McLean Hospitals Pathways Academy in Belmont, Massachusetts and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ostovar noted that people with SPD dont show the traits of someone with autism, such as difficulties with social and communication skills or stimming behaviors such as repetitive sounds or movement.

    Kids With Autism Sensory Processing Disorders Show Brain Wiring Differences

    UCSF Study Builds on its Groundbreaking Research Showing Children with SPD Have Measureable Brain Differences

    Researchers at UC San Francisco have found that children with sensory processing disorders have decreased structural brain connections in specific sensory regions different than those in autism, further establishing SPD as a clinically important neurodevelopmental disorder.

    The research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first study to compare structural connectivity in the brains of children with an autism diagnosis versus those with an SPD diagnosis, and with a group of typically developing boys. This new research follows UCSFs groundbreaking study published in 2013 that was the first to find that boys affected with SPD have quantifiable regional differences in brain structure when compared to typically developing boys. This work showed a biological basis for the disease but prompted the question of how these differences compared with other neurodevelopmental disorders.;

    With more than 1 percent of children in the U.S. diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and reports of 5 to 16 percent of children having sensory processing difficulties, its essential we define the neural underpinnings of these conditions, and identify the areas they overlap and where they are very distinct, said senior author Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and bioengineering at UCSF.

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    The Types Of A Sensory Processing Disorder In Three Categories:

    1. Sensory Modulation.

    Sensory modulation means how we organize sensory information.; Three common patterns are hyposensitive, hypersensitive, and sensory seeking.; They all fall under this sub-type.

    2. Sensory-Motor.

    There are also sensory disorders in movement or sensory-motor disorders.; A sensory-motor disorder means difficulties in posture and movement.; Sometimes words like dyspraxia or development coordination disorder are also used to describe those sensory-motor or movement disorders.; Posture means how you sit, stand, or move against gravity.; A sensory-motor disorder means difficulties in movement or moving.; Your child might appear clumsy or have difficulty with coordination if they have a sensory-motor disorder.

    3. Sensory Discrimination.

    There is another sub-type called sensory discrimination.; Sensory discrimination means telling the difference between variations in a single sense.; For example, some children have difficulty hearing the difference between the words bat and cat even when they do not have hearing loss.; Their brains simply cannot distinguish between the two words. That is an indication of a type of auditory sensory discrimination disorder.; With sensory discrimination disorder, there can be difficulty in perception in each of the senses.; It is helpful to know that wearing glasses, using a hearing aid or using a wheelchair are not signs of a sensory disorder.

    How Do I Help A Child Or Adult With A Sensory Processing Disorder

    Is it Sensory Processing Disorder or Attention Deficit ...

    A common treatment for a sensory processing disorder is occupational therapy.; An occupational therapist will fully assess you or your child and develop a treatment plan.; The occupational therapist needs to figure out what sub-type of a sensory disorder is present.; Many occupational therapists use a special treatment called sensory integration to help assist a client. Sensory integration involves both sensory and motor activities designed by the occupational therapist. The repetition and practice over time improves the brains ability to receive, understand and respond to information from the senses is more organized.

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    What Causes Sensory Processing Disorder

    Doctors dont know what causes SPD. Theyre 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 its important to note that most people who have SPD dont have autism.

    What Is Autistic Spectrum Disorder/condition

    Autistic Spectrum Disorder , or autism, is a developmental disability which affects how a person communicates with others and experiences the world around them.; Autistic children and adults will experiences difficulties with social communication and interactions.; Typically, they will have some form of restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests.; Differences in sensory responses were included in the 2013 update of the DMS-5, a manual used by clinicians to make an autism diagnosis.

    Whilst it was well known prior to this that sensory processing differences and autism/ASD often occurred together, this is the first time it had been formally recognised.; The DSM-5 states that the patterns of behaviours, activities or interests may be due to Hyper or hypo reactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment .; This means that autistic children or adults are likely to process sensory information in the environment differently to others.

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    Final Thoughts On Sensory Processing Disorder And Autism

    A child with autism spectrum disorder may have sensory processing issues, however a child with sensory processing disorder does not have autism.

    • If a parent believes their child has any issues regarding a developmental delay, they should contact their pediatrician for an evaluation
    • If a child shows any signs of a low tolerance to any sensory stimuli; has an excessive need for stimulation, such as needing to mouth certain objects; or is showing any coordination issues or bumping into walls or objects, the pediatrician should be made aware
    • With regard to any child who has already been diagnosed with autism and has sensory issues or is found to have sensory processing disorder, a parent should do their research to provide the best help possible for their little one. Talk to the pediatrician and other trusted professionals for recommendations, and search the internet for websites and groups for more information and guidance

    The earlier a child with autism and/or sensory processing disorder receives early intervention and help, the better.


    Signs That Your Child Might Have Sensory Processing Disorder

    What is Sensory Processing Disorder? – VS Sensory Overloads (Autism)
  • SPD can show up as over OR under responsive to stimulation from sight, sound, touch etcThings that should cause discomfort like being too hot or too cold prompt little response, and other things like a dog barking can cause a response akin to physical distress and extreme anxiety.
  • Intolerance to textures and certain clothing: some children with SPD cannot stand the way certain clothing feels on their bodies. They need simple styles with very few seams, and have to have to labels taken out. They may not be able to wear certain fabrics like wool.
  • Intolerance to certain noises or loud noises: some children with SPD hate the sound of vacuums, sirens, or crying babies. These noises can cause what feels like physical pain to those;with SPD, and make it difficult to concentrate or function.
  • Food textures and colours causing;extreme;responses. Many of us with kids on the spectrum have to help our children navigate this issue.
  • Difficulty using fine motor skills like using crayons or pens, putting small clothing on dolls, or using buttons on clothing for themselves.
  • Difficulty with change or transitions. While all young children need transition time, a child with SPD can;have real problems with switching from one activity to another, moving rooms or houses, changing classrooms, or even if you change curtains in your home. Change can cause meltdowns or total withdrawal depending on the child.
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    Sensory Health & Wellness

    Sensory processing is the neurology of how we feel. The sensory messages we receive from our bodies and the world around us are responded to in everything we do in life – whether its the comfort we feel from a warm hug from a loved one, the joy from the music we listen to, the feeling of satiation after eating, the ability to stay upright on moving bus or the act of learning / mastering a sport. In each instance, our sensory systems contribute vital information that we use to be successful. We couldnt do these things without our sensory systems.;

    Our ability to process sensory data does not usually require conscious thought or cognitive effort. It provides emotional stability, a platform for social interaction, a sense of self, well-being, satisfaction, and/or accomplishment. Sensory processing can also influence every area of living including our preferences in diet, exercise, relationships, career, and hobbies.;

    The sensory domain is where the brain and body connect and thrive. It is through robust sensory processing that we develop resilience, and establish a tolerance for stressful situations, learn to be calm under pressure, and process experiences that are challenging or upsetting. With well-integrated sensory processing comes a wealth of daily sensory-affective and sensory-motor experiences that cultivates the development of autonomy, competence, interest in learning, goal orientation, sense of purpose, resilience, social engagement, and agency.;

    Main Difference Autism Vs Sensory Processing Disorder

    Both Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder are complex disorders related to brain development; they make a negative impact on how the brain perceives and responds to external and internal stimuli. However, many people, including most health care professionals find it bit confusing to differentiate SPD from Autism since they appear very similar to each other at a glance. ;The subtle difference between Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder can only be noted on careful observations. Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD is a condition where multisensory integration is not adequately processed to provide appropriate responses to the demands of the environment. Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. This is the main difference between autism and sensory processing disorder.

    This article presents,

    1. What is Autism Condition, Signs and Symptoms

    2. What is Sensory Processing Disorder Condition, Etiology, Signs and Symptoms

    3. Comparison and Key Differences Between Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder

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    Attentional Shift Or Switch

    Conflicting findings have also been reported for auditory MMN amplitudes. Several groups have found increased MMN amplitude in samples of adults and children with AS and ASD , while in the passive condition, Dunn and colleagues, found reduced MMN amplitudes . Attention shifting for individuals with autism has received less focus in the visual and somatosensory domains, perhaps related to the intense interest in the auditory domain as the gateway for understanding the language and communication deficits that are central to autism spectrum disorders. When Kemner and colleagues assessed the role of visual attention using an oddball paradigm with both a passive condition and an active counting task, they found that children with autism did not differ from controls in the passive condition, but they did show a larger response to the deviant stimuli during the active task condition .

    Is There Always A Pattern Of Sensory Sensitivity In Autism

    There tends to be a lot of confusion when discussing the ...

    Interestingly, despite there being a lot of attention on sensory sensitivity in autism, the research reports a mix of sensory patterns.; Results show that there is no clear pattern of responses in autism to sensory information.; Different studies have given different results but most find that there is a mixed sensory profile in autism.

    This is a good reminder that every person with autism is an individual.; Whilst some brains are more sensitive, others could be slower to respond to sensory inputs and others might seek out more sensory inputs.; There can also be differences with each sense.; One common finding in all studies is auditory sensitivity, or sensitivity to sounds. I see this clinically too.; Touch sensitivityis also frequently reported.

    Overall, however, research does not support a specific pattern of responses.; Every autistic child or adult will have their own unique sensory profile and need their own individualised supports.

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