About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Mislabeled Child: On Sensory Processing Disorder

The Mislabeled Child indicates that sensory processing disorder ("SPD") is one of the conditions that leads to an autism mislabel. But! Is it a distinction without a difference? They write:
In fact, there is some relationship between sensory processing disorder and autism. Many children with autistic spectrum disorders also have sensory processing disorder, and some experts actually consider sensory processing disorder to be part of the autistic spectrum.
Hmmmm, very interesting. Here's the good part:
Both children with autistic spectrum disorders and those with sensory processing disorder show difficulties with high-level tasks involving the integration of different brain areas. These include complex sensory (e.g. vision, hearing, position, alance, motion and touch) and motor functions and also emotional regulation. Typically, though, the deficits seen in children with sensory processing disorder are "patchier" than those seen in children with autism, with greater sparing of higher order functions in areas like language, social affiliation, and empathy.
So, let's recap. According to The Mislabeled Child, SPD is superficially similar to autism with respect to behaviors, it may or may not actually be on the spectrum and, behind the behaviors, it's pretty much the same, only "patchier" and sparing of higher order functions.

Now, if I apply the Mislabeled Child paradigm to Brad, he probably falls under SPD. I think he has "affiliative drive", and he definitely has good mirroring skills, which would indicate he's not autistic, as per The Mislabled Child. Moreover, Brad has what the book describes as the physical manifestations of SPD. Of diagnosing SPD, the authors write:
Among the most common findings we see on exam are difficulties with finger-position sense, finger confusion, gross- and fine-motor coordination, low skeletal tone (especially of the core or postural muscles in the trunk and neck), difficulties with visual motor control and visual processing, and difficulties with auditory processing.
Brad has each of these physical issues. And that's not just my subjective opinion; these difficulties were observed by his developmental pediatrician (the second one, not the first one we kicked to the curb) and the school district. To clarify, these are also signs of DCD or dyspraxia, which itself is a symptom of SPD.


Elizabeth Channel said...

It is so, so confusing. Your discussion is fascinating, however, especially for someone who has been told equally vehemently that her child does have SPD and does not have ASD yet by others the opposite message...

Laura said...

I know it's an esoteric issue. But there are pockets of us whose children fall into this weird little region, and it's bewildering. As you know!

willow2011 said...

My son was dx with Autism at 24 months. After recieving 5 months of speech/OT twice a week he is at several hundred words, shows joint attention, very affection, plays with other children, almost typical eye contact, and has great imitation skills. I believe that he was misdiagnosis with Autism r/t having SPD. He appeared autistic related to the sensory processing deficits. Now that he knows how to regulate himself he seems very typical.

megha said...

willow2011....my child is of 24 months and doctor says that he can be autistic,he don't even recognise me.I just want to know that,do ur child recognizes you at that age.I am very worried about my child plz reply me as soon as possible.

Baba Blacksheep said...

I know this is an older post, but I thought I would comment. My 4 year old son was just diagnosed "not on the spectrum" after a developmental evaluation. He has had speech and motor skills issues his whole life, but never seemed to fit the ASD criteria to me either. He is social and empathetic, although lacks social SKILLS due to his delays. I am increasingly convinced it is SPD, too bad that doesn't exist as a separate diagnosis yet.