Disorder of Sensory Processing

By | June 10, 2022

A group of diseases known as sensory processing disorders is associated with difficulties in the sensory integration of various stimuli. Those affected react inappropriately to their environment due to the disturbed stimulus processing. Sensory integration can be improved in occupational therapy.

What is a sensory processing disorder

Humans have intero- and exteroceptive perception systems. Stimuli from within are perceived in the same way as stimuli from the external environment. The connection between intero- and exteroceptive perceptual stimuli creates sensory integration. Only by connecting the stimuli is it possible for people to use their own body for specific actions in response to exteroceptive sensory perceptions. For hepatitis e in English, please visit gradphysics.com.

Sensory processing is impaired when multisensory integration no longer takes place to an appropriate extent and the patient is unable to respond appropriately to specific environmental demands. In order to function well in their environment, humans need all of their senses. Both the visual and acoustic, as well as the haptic, olfactory, gustatory and proprioceptive perception or the vestibular sense are needed for this.

The disorder of sensory processing is characterized by problems in integrating impressions from different sensory systems and, above all, causes reduced performance. The haptic, vestibular and proprioceptive areas are particularly often affected. Disorders of sensory processing can be divided into three areas:

  • modulation interference
  • Sensorimotor disorders
  • Sensory Discrimination Disorders


The midbrain, as a region of the brainstem with distinct processing pathways, is involved in multisensory integration. Attention, coordination and arousal are also controlled from here. From there, sensory information migrates to other areas of the brain, primarily to the emotional, memory, and cognitive centers.

Disturbance of the transference processes impairs the interpretation of stimuli and thus makes the reaction to stimuli more difficult. Brain injuries in areas of multisensory stimulus processing can be the cause of inappropriately functional stimulus processing. Both genetic and neurological reasons are possible for a sensory processing disorder.

According to current research, overreactions and overexcitability in haptic and acoustic perception are probably genetically influenced. A current thesis states that after the arrival of multi-sensory stimuli, complex systems in the frontal lobe are activated in those affected, which start cognitively just as complex processes.

This process takes the place of the automatic integration of multisensory stimuli. In addition, unusual microstructures were discovered in the white matter of those affected, which could be the cause of the phenomenon of impaired sensory perception.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Disorders of sensory processing manifest themselves in a particularly diverse range of symptoms and depend heavily on the type and subtype of the disease. Only faults with clear functional limitations are relevant for diagnosis. People with tactile overreactions can, for example, have a severely disabling aversion to certain substances, care products or food, or avoid physical contact with other people.

Auditory Oversensitives often avoid public places and group gatherings. Sleep disorders and inner restlessness or persistent stress are also characteristic of all hypersensitivities. Individuals with underreactions in one or more sensory systems often appear absent or slowed down. Sometimes sufferers of tactile hyposensitivities are unaware of pain.

Auditory deaf people appear deaf even though they can hear. People with modulation disorders usually appear fidgety and impulsive or unconsciously seek out extreme sensory impressions. Patients with sensorimotor disorders appear slow and uncoordinated, associated with clumsy to poor motor skills.

When sensory discrimination is present, patients often drop objects or have difficulty with everyday tasks such as getting dressed. In addition, patients often cannot assess their own physical strength and can only coordinate it with difficulty. Poor balance, poor muscle tone, decreased postural control, and difficulty planning movements can be additional signs.

Diagnosis & course of the disease

The diagnosis of a sensory processing disorder is usually based on the implementation of standard tests, the anamnesis according to standard questionnaires and observation standards. Diagnosis is made jointly by occupational therapists, psychologists, learning specialists, physical therapists, and neurologists, and usually concludes with a comprehensive psychological and neurological assessment.

Standardized tests and diagnostics include the Sensory Integration and Practice Test, the DeGangi-Berk Test of Sensory Integration and the Test of Sensory Functions in Infants. Standardized questionnaires for diagnosis include the Sensory Profile, the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile and the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile as well as the Sensory Profile School Companion, the Sensory Processing Measure and the Sensory Processing Measure Preschool.


A disturbance in sensory processing can lead to various complaints and complications in the everyday life of the person concerned. In many cases, they are unable to correctly assess the dangers and may injure themselves as a result. However, many patients suffer from hypersensitivity, so that even minor injuries or a slight increase in temperature can cause severe pain.

This disorder often also has a negative effect on sleep, which can lead to sleep disorders and thus to depression and stress. Inner restlessness also occurs frequently and has a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. Those affected can also go blind or completely lose their sense of hearing if sensory processing is disturbed. There are also problems with coordination and concentration.

Even the balance can no longer be easily maintained. The treatment of this condition depends heavily on the exact causes. However, in many cases no direct treatment is possible, so that the disorders cannot be completely limited. In some cases, the patients suffer from these disorders from birth, so that treatment is also not possible.

When should you go to the doctor?

If irregularities and strong deviations in the processing of sensory stimuli are noticed in comparison to people in the immediate environment of the person concerned, these should be observed more closely. It is important to note which senses are affected and the extent of the changes. For example, if noises are processed more intensively and tones are perceived louder, this should be examined and clarified by a doctor. If the deviations are observed at regular intervals or if the person concerned suffers from them permanently, there is cause for concern. If the symptoms cause insomnia, inner restlessness or nervousness, a doctor should be consulted.

An unsteady gait, problems with locomotion or poor physical performance should be presented to a doctor. If the person concerned suffers from stress, if his behavior often shows strong emotional reactions or if there is a state of mental stress, it is advisable to clarify the cause. If natural smells are perceived as unpleasant, the person concerned should check whether they would like to seek help. In many cases there are other disorders that are the cause of this perception. It is advisable to have the symptoms clarified in order to be able to rule out diseases and to be able to deal better with sensory processing.

Treatment & Therapy

Various approaches can be used to treat sensory processing disorders, all of which correspond to causal treatment. The course of treatment depends on the affected sensory system. Therapy for a disorder of the vestibular system can, for example, correspond to treatment with system-stimulating aids such as the tire swing.

Analogous to this, all main forms of therapy are occupational therapy, which are intended to activate the respective sensory system. The therapist provides the child with stimuli at exactly the level that the child can handle. The child must therefore be able to cope with the demands and adapts its own behavior with useful reaction strategies to the demands of the therapy.

Especially people with underreactivities benefit from the use of strong stimuli that are used playfully in therapy. Those affected by overreactivity, on the other hand, are more likely to learn calming activities and strategies, such as yoga or breathing techniques. Therapists often rely on the willingness of parents and school staff to improve the functioning of the affected senses at home or at school.

The treatment of affected adults differs from the therapy measures listed for children. Adult patients have probably suffered from sensory integration problems since birth and have often already developed diseases such as Asperger’s syndrome or serious developmental disorders in the area of ​​coordination as secondary diseases.

Psychological problems are also frequent sequelae of a long-standing sensory processing disorder. The therapy of an adult patient must therefore be tailored to the respective secondary disease and is often combined with psychotherapy.


Since the disorder of sensory processing is probably genetic, the disease cannot be prevented. However, the risk of secondary diseases can be reduced by early diagnosis and therapy.

If the person suddenly no longer manages to process all internal and external impressions, there is a sensory processing disorder. Humans normally perceive stimuli from within and stimuli from the environment. The brain produces a sensory integration from this, so that the human being has only one perception and feels part of the outside world. Only by connecting the stimuli from inside and outside with one another can a person act purposefully and consciously and implement sensory perceptions in a targeted manner. When people are no longer able to react appropriately to their environment, it is possible that there is a sensory processing disorder. Perception includes visual, auditory, tactile, tactile, olfactory, and taste stimuli.


Once a sensory disorder has been identified, there are a number of ways to deal with it. First of all, the question arises as to how the disorder affects everyday life and work capacity as well as social behavior. After this has been determined, one can carry out various exercises and training measures to restore the stimuli.

For example, the sense of smell can be specifically trained through smell and taste exercises. Through occupational therapy, touch and feel can be learned and sensitized in a targeted manner. A sensory processing disorder is a disorder of the brain and nervous system that may also be triggered by the environment.

You can do that yourself

If there is a disturbance in sensory processing, a strong inner balance is required in everyday life. The disease poses great challenges for those affected and their families. In order to cope with this, inner serenity, stable self-confidence and joie de vivre are elementary.

Relaxation techniques should be used to strengthen mental strength. Meditation, yoga or autogenic training help to create an emotional balance and equilibrium. Hectic, stress and states of inner dissatisfaction should be reduced if possible. Carrying out soothing activities and a balanced leisure time program are advisable. In the case of playful activities, care must also be taken to ensure that the focus is on joy and fun. Restlessness or the build-up of aggressive energies usually lead to a worsening of the overall situation. For this reason, they should be reduced to a minimum.

In order to avoid misunderstandings or conflicts in everyday life, the social environment should be informed about the disease and the existing symptoms. This allows for better handling of developments for relatives, friends and acquaintances with the patient. Openness and honesty on the part of everyone involved have a supporting effect. In addition, it can be perceived as pleasant for the person concerned if an exchange with other patients can take place in self-help groups or Internet forums.

Disorder of Sensory Processing