Next big fight: Is SPD a real disease?

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is one of those ‘peculiar modern diseases caught in the purgatory between legitimacy and quackery’, writes [s]Slate[/s]. It’s widely accepted that some children have difficulty handling external stimuli. Kids diagnosed with autism and ADHD have trouble managing sensory experiences that others deal with easily. That much is uncontroversial.

In the 1970s, however, a UCLA psychologist claimed that sensory processing failure is not merely a symptom of other disorders but is more often a freestanding disease with its own neurologic basis. After 40 years of debate, the matter remains unresolved.

The distinction between symptom and disorder matters a great deal because tens of thousands of parents are convinced that their children’s behavioural issues are the result of SPD. They don’t believe, or can’t believe, that the real problem is anxiety, ADHD, or autism. It also matters because barrel-loads of medical insurance money are on the line.
Full Slate report


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