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Little boy with Sensory Processing Disorder standing next to window in sad mood. Sad Teenager with SPD looking in the Window and closing his ears with hands.

Are Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Autism the same?

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are two neurological conditions that are often discussed in relation to each other. While there are some similarities between the two conditions, they are not the same.

SPD is a condition in which the brain has difficulty receiving and processing information from the senses. This can cause individuals to be over or under-sensitive to different types of sensory input such as light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. People with SPD may experience difficulty filtering out sensory information or may be easily overwhelmed by their surroundings. The symptoms of SPD can vary greatly between individuals and can affect their daily life in various ways.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to communicate, socialise, and engage in repetitive behaviours or routines. Autism is typically diagnosed through observation of behavioural patterns and is often accompanied by sensory processing issues. People with autism may also have difficulty processing sensory information, leading to sensory overload or sensory-seeking behaviours.

While sensory processing issues are often present in individuals with ASD, it is important to note that not all individuals with SPD have autism, and not all individuals with autism have SPD. However, studies have shown that the prevalence of SPD is much higher in individuals with autism than in the general population.

One theory suggests that the link between SPD and autism may be due to shared genetic and neurological pathways. Researchers have identified several genes that are involved in both sensory processing and autism, and have also found differences in brain structure and function in individuals with both conditions.

However, it is important to recognise that while there may be some overlap between SPD and autism, they are distinct conditions with different diagnostic criteria and treatment approaches. SPD is not currently recognised as a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), while autism is.

Treatment for SPD may involve working with an occupational therapist to develop strategies to manage sensory processing issues, while treatment for autism typically involves a multidisciplinary approach that may include therapy, medication, and behavioural interventions.

In conclusion, while SPD and autism share some similarities, they are not the same condition. Sensory processing issues are often present in individuals with autism, but not all individuals with SPD have autism, and not all individuals with autism have SPD. It is important to recognize and address the unique needs of individuals with each condition to provide effective support and treatment.

Our Sensory Processing Course enables attendees to understand the challenges for people living with sensory processing difficulties and offer strategies to support them on a day to day basis.

We also deliver an Autism Awareness Course which enables attendees to understand how mental health associates with autism and how to manage behavioural challenges.

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