Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

September 02, 2022 Season 1 Episode 32
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Show Notes Transcript

*Disclaimer: if your child has been diagnosed with SPD, or you suspect they have SPD, the best place to begin with any type of diagnostic or treatment plans is with an Occupational Therapist trained in sensory integration.  I am not an OT, and the information in this podcast series should not be used in any way to diagnose you or your child.  
Today starts a special weekly series I will be doing on SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder. 

  • What is it?  
  • What are the symptoms?  
  • What do you DO for it?  
  • What exactly is a sensory diet? 
  • What does the future research on SPD look like

 This is an absolutely huge topic and there is more and more research and discoveries happening with sensory processing every single day.  That’s why I’m going to break it up into parts. 

On today's episode, I introduce what is SPD as well as the EIGHT senses of our body.  Yes, I said eight.

Additional episodes will look at:

  • The three types of SPD
  • How our senses can be impacted by each type
  • Define a sensory diet
  • Where the research is headed

Today's episode featured information from:
Carol Stock Kranowitz

The Interoceptive System

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I’m Jessica Kidwell, and this is Neuroversity.  A space to expand our understanding of Neurodiversity and elevate neurodivergent voices and experiences.  As a neurotypical mom to neurodivergent children, I struggled to find one source of information to guide my own understanding of the different types of neurodivergence, and after 15 years of learning under my belt I realize that I’m only just at the beginning of what I could know.  So, I created this podcast with the goal to be a one-stop resource for anyone curious about neurodiversity, for anyone beginning their own journey of learning, and most importantly, a welcome space for all.  Today starts a special weekly series I will be doing on SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder.  What is it?  What are the symptoms?  What do you DO for it?  And what exactly is a sensory diet?  This is an absolutely huge topic, in fact, it is the largest area of study for all Occupational Therapists and there is more and more research and discoveries happening with sensory processing every single day.  That’s why I’m going to break it up into parts.  Let’s get started.


Sensory processing and all it’s myriad of ways it shows up is near and dear to my heart.  I’d call it the gateway topic that introduced me, and our family, to this wide wonderful and overwhelming world of neurodivergence.  At age three, after her pre-school teacher gently and persistently got my attention about some developmental concerns, and our pediatrician sent us to see a neurologist, and the neurologist did a battery of tests and sent us to both speech and occupational therapists, my daughter received her first neurodivergent diagnosis: Sensory Processing Disorder.  Keep in mind, this was in 2009, and the wider adoption of the neurodivergent paradigm had not quite happened.  With my clear and educated eyes of today, I acknowledge the term “disorder” immediately medicalizes this term, which can be off putting to some. And with all that we know now the “D” could also be, Dysfunction, Delays, Deficits, Disabilities, Difficulties, Dimensions, Diversity, or Differences.  Pick a D, and D.  From this point on, I’ll just be referring to the acronym SPD.  


So, what IS SPD?  As defined by Carol Stock Kranowitz, who literally wrote the book on Sensory Processing Disorder-actually, she’s written an entire series of books about it and coined the term, The Out-of-Sync Child, people with SPD process their senses less efficiently than others. Their central nervous system mismanages bodily and environmental sensations. People with SPD have difficulty responding in an adaptive way to sensations that most others cope with easily.  It is, in fact, a neurological condition that interferes with the body’s ability to receive messages from the senses, and then convert those messages into appropriate physical and behavioral responses.  

Now, time for me to get super “in the weeds” with detail.   General consensus is that there are five senses, Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, and Smell, right?   Well, in the wide, wonderful and overwhelming world of neurodivergence, there are three more systems to add to that list of five:

The Vestibular System

The Proprioceptive System

The Interoceptive System.

Big words. I know.  Let me explain them to you:

The Vestibular System is ruled by our inner ear-it is our sense of balance.  Of knowing where are body is in the world.  Any time our head position changes from where it is right now….our Vestibular system is activated.  It’s how you know when you are moving or still.


The Proprioceptive system is ruled by our muscles and joints.  Any types of gross motor activities we do, climbing, running, bike riding, jumping, dancing…..our proprioceptive system is activated.  And our proprioceptive system is why most of us, once we learn how to do something (like walk, ride a bike, climb stairs) our body remembers and we don’t have to re-learn over and over.


The Interoceptive system is best understood by thinking of it as our “hidden sense.  It gives us the ability to feel what is happening inside our body. It has special nerve receptors all over our bodies including our internal organs, bones, muscles and skin. These receptors send information to the brain which uses it to determine how we feel.


Wow.  That is a lot of information to process: Eight senses?  Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, and Smell, yeah yeah, the big 5 but also Vestibular, Proprioceptive, and Interoceptive. 


So now that you are familiar with these eight sense system, the next part of this series on SPD will focus on the three types of SPD:

Sensory Modulation Disorder

Sensory based motor Disorder

And Sensory discrimination Disorder

and how the eight sense systems could be impacted within each type.  


But for now, fellow curious minds, if you’ve made it this far, I have a Call To Action request for you.   After you have finished listening, head to my website: and join the mailing list.  This is a great way to find out what’s coming up on Neuroversity and a way to let me know what topics you’ve enjoyed, still wondering about, or even pitch an idea for a future episode.  And take the time to leave a review on the platform you are listening to me right now.  Reviews are the best way to get more curious minds to enroll..  Building this community is so important to me and I want to be sure I’m providing the content you want!