Occupational Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Sensory processing disorder (SPD), also known as sensory integration dysfunction, is a condition in which the brain has difficulty processing and responding to information that comes in through the senses. This can affect various aspects of daily life and may lead to challenges in functioning effectively in different environments.

Sensory processing involves the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. For individuals with SPD, the sensory information may be perceived as exaggerated or diminished, leading to difficulties in responding appropriately to the environment.


There are three main types of Sensory Processing Disorder; 


There are several causes of Sensory Processing Disorder including; 

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for SPD including genetics, low birth weight, complications during birth, traumatic experiences and infections or illnesses during early childhood.


Common symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder include; 

Occupational Therapy Specialism

Occupational Therapists who specialise in assessing and treating people who have SPD are based in a branch of Occupational Therapy for  Neurodivergence.

Common Difficulties associated with SPD

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) can manifest in a variety of difficulties that impact daily functioning. These difficulties are often related to challenges in processing and responding to sensory stimuli. Here are some common difficulties associated with SPD:

Over-responsivity (Hyperresponsivity)

Under-responsivity (Hyporesponsivity)

Sensory Seeking Behavior

Motor Coordination Difficulties

Balance and Spatial Awareness Issues

Social and Emotional Challenges

Sleep Issues

Anxiety and Stress

How can Occupational Therapy help?

Occupational therapy (OT) is a primary and effective intervention for individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Occupational therapists with expertise in sensory integration use a holistic approach to address sensory challenges and help individuals develop adaptive responses to their environment. Here's how occupational therapy can help with SPD:

Assessment and Evaluation

Individualized Treatment Plans

Sensory Integration Therapy

Environmental Modifications

Sensory Diet

Motor Skills Development

Self-Care Skills Training

Coping Strategies and Emotional Regulation

Social Skills Development

Collaboration with Families and Caregivers