Sensory processing disorder (SPD) (formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t integrate to provide appropriate responses, the various types of sensory information are processed by multisensory integration. Different people experience a wide range of difficulties when processing input coming from a variety of senses. For example, some people find wool fabrics itchy and hard to wear while others don’t and some individuals might experience motion sickness while riding amusement park rides, while their friends are having fun. However, sensory processing disorder is characterized by significant problems to organize sensation coming from the body and the environment and manifested by difficulties in the performance in one or more of the main areas of life: productivity, leisure and play or activities of daily living.
Sensory processing was defined by occupational therapist Anna Jean Ayres in 1972 as “the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment”. The senses provide information from various modalities, vision, audition, tactile, olfactory, taste, proprioception, vestibular system; in order to adequately function. The mid-brain and brain stem regions of the central nervous system are early centers in the processing pathway for multisensory integration. These brain regions are involved in processes including coordination, attention, arousal, and autonomic function. After sensory information passes through these centers, it is then routed to brain regions responsible for emotions, memory, and higher level cognitive functions.
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