18 Oct

What is SPSD?

These are the 5 most common questions asked about SPSD.

1. What does SPSD mean?
SPSD stands for Sensory Processing Sensitivity + Disorder. We’ve discovered that the intersection of these traits yields a lot of confusion. SPSD was written to explore the similarities and differences of Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), which is what highly sensitive people “have” and those with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). This book is a guide for adults living or working with SPS, SPD and SPSD children.

2. Why are you writing this book and who will read it?
Melissa and Jill have been friends for over 10 years. They are both Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) and have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). As they talked about life experiences and their work they discovered there were many overlaps between sensory processing sensitivity and sensory processing disorder. They realized there was a gap in understanding for professionals and parents of children like them!

3. What is Sensory Processing Sensitivity?
Sensory Processing Sensitivity is an inborn trait found in 15-20% of the population.  1 in 5 people notice subtleties, process deeply, are easily overstimulated and experience more saturated emotions. This inborn trait is not a disorder and does not require any treatment. It does, however, require a willingness on the part of professionals and parents to honor the child’s unique way of experiencing life. Some adults who are HSPs do not discover the depth of their own sensitivity until their children ‘push’ them to learn more. Because this trait is genetic typically at least one biological parent (or grandparent) is highly sensitive.

4. What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder that affects an individual’s ability to take in, process and output a response to stimulus in their environment. Children with SPD may struggle to complete daily tasks and navigate transitions. They may have challenges with eating, bathing, eliminating and developing social skills. Typically these children benefit greatly from working with a pediatric occupational therapist who helps order sensory processing through play based therapies.

5. What are some similarities and differences?
One common similarities is around sensitivity to fabrics. Highly Sensitive Children (HSCs) and children with SPD tend to complain about clothes that are “itchy”, “stiff” or have noticeable tags and/or seams. They may also prefer to be barefoot. The primary difference between SPS and SPD is that a HSC can “handle” the discomfort– she may “push through” the itchiness of a tutu because she loves how it looks. A SPD child cannot handle the sensory discomfort. No matter what, she cannot wear the tutu. She may have a sensory meltdown lasting 20-30 minutes because the tutu was so uncomfortable. The child’s ability to rebound from the sensory discord is the primary factor in determining SPS vs SPD.

A major difference reveals itself in the names of the terms — high sensitivity is not a disorder whereas sensory processing alludes to some neurological disordering. Occupational Therapy (which is play based, sensory integrative therapy) helps rewire the disordering.

SPSD will help you understand what drives a child’s behavior and how to make educated decisions for the child’s highest good.