Is Sensory Processing Disorder A Real Diagnosis?  

Sensory processing disorder has sparked a major debate and it has been a debate for a very long time. Some experts argue that it is a real neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how the brain processes and responds to sensory input but others say that it is not recognized or a real diagnosis. 

Sensory processing disorder affects both children and adults and it can present in many  different ways like being easily overwhelmed by loud noises or bright lights, having difficulty with balance and coordination, and much more.

I can tell you that the symptoms of sensory processing disorder are very much real because I experience it everyday and so do my children. Sensory processing difficulties  can significantly impact someone's life. There is still debate over the  classification of it being a disorder. 

Neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official guide used by mental health professionals to diagnose psychiatric conditions but sensory processing disorder has not yet been included unfortunately.  

One of the reasons that sensory processing disorder isn't yet in 
the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the lack of consensus between the researchers and experts on how to define and diagnose the disorder. 

Unlike other well known and established disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, there is no standard set of diagnostic criteria for sensory processing disorder. This would lead to an inconsistent diagnoses and difficulty in conducting reliable research.

Some experts argue that sensory processing disorder may just be a part of other disorders like autism or anxiety disorders. Some do believe that addressing and treating the underlying  causes of these disorders will also improve the sensory processing issues. Then there would be no need for a separate diagnosis for sensory processing disorder.

Those who argue in favor of sensory processing disorder being recognized as a separate disorder argue that it is a distinct condition with its own set of symptoms and challenges. They believe that without an official diagnosis, many people with sensory differences may not receive the appropriate support and services they need to manage their sensory symptoms.

Research over the past several years has shed some more light on sensory processing disorder, supporting the claim that it is a legitimate disorder. Studies have shown that people who have sensory processing disorder have differences in brain structure and function compared to those without it. They also have a higher prevalence of sensory challenges in families with a history of other sensory-related conditions, such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

When people disagree about sensory processing disorder and they believe that it is not a real diagnosis or disorder, that can have real life implications for those who are living with sensory processing disorder. Without an official diagnosis, insurance companies may not cover therapies or other interventions for sensory processing disorder. This can be a significant barrier for families who are seeking support, funding and treatment for their children who have sensory processing disorder. 
At this point, no one knows whether sensory processing disorder will be a recognized diagnosis in the next DSM as an official stand alone disorder. One thing is certain though and that is that sensory processing disorder is real. It can be a very challenging condition that requires attention, research, services, funding, support, treatment and to be recognized. 

Here are some more helpful Sensory Processing Disorder Resources

DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional.

Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links on my website.  Each of your purchases through links on my website for Amazon affiliation links or sponsored links supports me but at no additional cost to you so thank you for your purchases. I appreciate it so much!