Comorbidity: Sensory Processing Disorder

One of the comorbidity conditions is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). It isn’t perhaps one that many may be aware of. However it is still something that some ADHDers experience.

So, let’s dive into it.

What is SPD?

What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) exactly?

SPD is a a neurological condition that affects the brain’s ability to process, organize and respond to the information received from the senses. It can make it difficult for those with SPD to act based on what their senses are telling them.

It can make it difficult to filter out or tune out some of the unimportant information from the senses.

All of this can create a feeling of “sensory overload” and make those with this condition so overwhelmed by all the information from their senses. More so than those without SPD.

This is what sensory processing disorder is, in a nutshell.

What SPD Can Look Like

Sensory processing disorder may affect people with it differently. For some, it may feel as though their senses are being assaulted. Too much information is coming at them and things get too much. For others, SPD is the opposite. Some are in need and crave some form of stimulation. 

However, it seems that most individuals with SPD struggle with elements of both extremes. At times, being overwhelmed by their sense. And at others, they are in search for some extra stimulation.

There are a few different triggers, which include:

  • Brushing their hair
  • Loud noises, such as fireworks
  • Bright lights
  • Tags on clothes

This is just a short list of examples of triggers. There are various things that may trigger someone with SPD.

ADHD and SPD

In some cases, SPD can be a stand-alone disorder, as the individual has this condition. However, as you can imagine, it also happens that it co-exists with other disorders, such as ADHD. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be here writing about it. 

Researches show that it is quite common for ADHDers to also have SPD.

There are some similarities between these two conditions, such as fidgetiness and inattention. However, there are some differences as well. If you take the trigger of SPD, the person with SPD will be able to act appropriately based on the situation. Unlike SPD, those with ADHD will not be able to in the same way. Those with ADHD will still struggle with processing all the information that they’re receiving.

What Can Help?

There are some things that can help those with SPD. The treatments won’t be the same for everyone with SPD, as everyone is different and their needs will differ. The first step is to do know which senses are being overloaded or under stimulated.

One treatment option is occupational therapy. The therapist will help retrain the senses. For some with SPD, occupational therapy is beneficial and has helped them manage their symptoms in their daily life. The therapist has techniques in order to help.

Depending on the individual and their struggles, there are some things that can help at home as well. For those who struggle with sound challenging, using noise cancelling headset or using a white noise machine can be helpful. For those who struggle with visual struggles, wearing sunglasses (inside and out) or shopping online instead of in a visual overstimulating store can be beneficial.

These are just some things that can be beneficial to treat and help manage SPD.

Final Thoughts

Sensory processing disorder can be quite a struggle for those who are diagnosed with this condition. It is a condition that not everyone may be aware of, but does still exist. I’ll admit that it was something that I had heard a little bit about before, but didn’t know much about. I am certainly glad I looked further into it.

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2 Comments

  • I’ve never heard of sensory processing disorder before reading your post.

    • It’s not something many know about, I think.

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