The Sensory Processing Disorder Answer Book: Practical Answers to the Top 250 Questions Parents Ask (Answer Book Series)

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Is there medication for sensory processing disorder? How can occupational therapy help? What advice can I give my child's teacher? Can you "outgrow" sensory processing disorder? How can we make social situations less of an ordeal? What are some therapeutic activities I can do with my child?

It is estimated that more than 10 percent of children deal with some form of sensory processing disorder (SPD), a neurological disorder ...

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Is there medication for sensory processing disorder? How can occupational therapy help? What advice can I give my child's teacher? Can you "outgrow" sensory processing disorder? How can we make social situations less of an ordeal? What are some therapeutic activities I can do with my child?

It is estimated that more than 10 percent of children deal with some form of sensory processing disorder (SPD), a neurological disorder characterized by the misinterpretation of everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement. For many children, SPD can lead to academic struggles, behavioral problems, difficulties with coordination, and other issues. The Sensory Processing Disorder Answer Book is a reassuring, authoritative reference, providing sound advice and immediate answers to your most pressing questions about SPD, such as:

  • What is sensory processing?
  • Does SPD affect social skills?
  • Can you see sensory processing difficulties in an infant?
  • What is Sensory Integration Therapy?
  • Is SPD a sign of autism?
  • Are there tests for SPD?
  • How do I get a prescription for occupational therapy?
  • How do I teach my child to understand his sensory needs?

Written in an easy-to-read question and answer format, The Sensory Processing Disorder Answer Book helps you fully understand SPD, conquer your fears, and seek help for your child when necessary.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402211232
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Series: Answer Book Series
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 265,200
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Tara Delaney MS, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of BabySteps, a pediatric therapy and educational services company. She conducts seminars internationally on sensory processing issues through the Making Sense-ory™ series.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter One: What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Q. What is sensory processing?
A. Sensory processing or sensory integration refers to the nervous system's job of taking in all the information around us through our senses (movement, touch, smell, taste, visual, and hearing) and organizing that information so that we can attach meaning to it and act on it accordingly. Sensory integration is the basis for learning. It is what allows us to get an idea of what is going on in the world around us. We learn when we take in new information, cross reference the new information to previous similar experiences, and make an assessment as to how we should proceed given the current set of information.

For example, when you hear a dog barking, your ears take in the information and your brain attaches meaning to it, such as identifying it as an animal, not a cat but a dog, determining how close it is, and deciding whether it sounds like a big dog or a small dog. Then the brain matches that information with past experiences that have been stored as memory. If you have ever been bitten by a dog, you may run to get away when you hear the barking. On the other hand, if you grew up with dogs, the sound may make you homesick for your childhood home.

The development of sensory systems begins in the womb and continues throughout our lives. In the early childhood years, the nervous system is in hyper-development and sensory integration is being refined through typical childhood activities. This is why the first few years of childhood are considered the sensory-motor years, and are crucial for laying the foundation for our nervous system.

Q. What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
A. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) describes the difficulty that some people's nervous systems have in making use of and integrating sensory information. SPD can exist when there are no other underlying conditions or can be present in conjunction with other neurological or psychological diagnoses.

Q. What causes SPD?
A. Sensory Processing Disorder is a result of neurological disorganization that affects nervous system processing in a few different ways. The brain is not receiving messages, or the messages that are received are inconsistent, or the sensory information is consistent but does not integrate properly with other sensory information from the other related sensory systems.

Q. What are some of the general signs of Sensory Processing Disorder?
A. Here is a list of signs that may point to Sensory Processing Disorder:
- Overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
- Underreactive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
- Easily distracted
- Social and/or emotional problems
- Activity level that is unusually high or unusually low
- Physical clumsiness or apparent carelessness
- Impulsive, lacking in self-control
- Difficulty making transitions from one situation to another
- Inability to unwind or calm self
- Poor physical self-concept
- Delays in speech, language, or motor skills
- Delays in academic achievement

Q. Who "discovered" SPD?
A. Sensory Processing Disorder (originally called Sensory Integration Dysfunction) was first "discovered" in the mid-1900s but was not given any attention until Dr. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist, psychologist, and neuroscientist, wrote a book called Sensory Integration and Learning Disabilities in 1972. The book was based upon research that linked sensory processing to learning difficulties. Building upon Dr. Ayres's work, other researchers and therapists drew a link between sensory processing difficulties and behavior.
Q. What percentage of the population has Sensory Processing Disorder?
A. A recent study showed that at least 5 percent and up to 13 percent of the population has Sensory Processing Disorder.

Q. I've heard it called Sensory Integration Dysfunction and Sensory Processing Disorder. Which is it?
A. Beginning in the 1970s, the term Sensory Integration Dysfunction was commonly used. However, as the field matures and we learn more about how sensory processing difficulties can manifest themselves differently in children, there has been a need for a more expansive term that has evolved into the term Sensory Processing Disorder. You will still hear the term Sensory Integration Dysfunction occasionally.

The term sensory integration is mostly reserved for explaining how the nervous system processes sensory information, whereas Sensory Processing Disorder describes the condition that reflects difficulties with how we register and process that information. Sensory Processing Disorder is an umbrella term covering three categories, which will be discussed extensively in the next question.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Chapter 2: Understanding Sensory Integration
Chapter 3: Recognizing SPD
Chapter 4: Other Signs and Symptoms
Chapter 5: Getting a Diagnosis
Chapter 6: Treatment
Chapter 7: Your Child at Home
Chapter 8: Sensory Integration Strategies
Chapter 9: School-Based Therapy
Chapter 10: Strategies for School Success
Chapter 11: Social Situations
Chapter 12: Touchy Topics
Chapter 13: The Adult Years
Chapter 14: SPD and Other Disorders
Chapter 15: Special Populations
Chapter 16: Therapeutic Activities
Chapter 17: Resources
Appendix A: Sample Sensory Diet
Appendix B: Behavior Flowchart
About the Author

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    This book was easy to use, comprehensive, and understandable. My only wish is that it more thoroughly addressed teens and adults with SPD. Very helpful when trying to inform family and friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2008

    Excellent Resource

    As someone who knew little about sensory processing disorder, this book proved extremely informative. It was easy to read and provided me with a much clearer understanding of the condition and thinking process of children. I would highly recommend this read to parents and anyone working with children!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    A Great Resource for Parents, Therapists, and Teachers

    As an occupational therapist and a parent this book is the perfect resource for all the questions I have and constantly get asked. It breaks the answers down in simple terms so that both a seasoned therapist and a parent new to the sensory processing world can understand and learn. I love how it explains the role of occupational therapy and especially how the role may differ in the school environment. I will use it as a reference in both my professional and personal life... every OT should have this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2008

    A reviewer

    I'm an occupational therapist who works in a clinic and school setting.I just finished reading SPD answer book and it provided the specific information I've been looking for! It's a perfect resource for parents and for adults living with SPD. The book's written in a question answer format, so you can easily get your questions answered immediately. The author does an amazing job of breaking down the science of this disorder while explaining it in practical terms. It's like a mini encyclopedia on SPD, describing the physiology, everyday functional strategies to handle sensory overloading situations, therapeutic activities, and a list of concise resources in the back.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2010

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