“Penny has sensory processing disorder.”
I remember saying this one simple sentence to family and friends shortly after my 3-year-old’s diagnosis this past fall. Every single person we told of Penny’s diagnosis asked, “What is sensory processing disorder, exactly?”
In short, sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a condition in which a person has difficulty both receiving and responding to information acquired through the senses. Every single child with SPD is different and will have different symptoms. SPD can be a stand-alone condition, but it is often diagnosed along with autism spectrum disorder or ADHD. In our case, our daughter does not have autism or ADHD, both of which can make the diagnosis of SPD even more confusing.
Most people don’t know how to handle a condition they’ve never heard of. At times, I’ve been frustrated by the things people have said to me, to my husband, and especially to my daughter. My hope is not to shame others, but to educate people on what SPD is and the appropriate way to respond to caregivers and children with sensory issues.