SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction” is a term that many therapists use to describe a person who does not appear to process sensory input correctly.  This term is not found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but may be used by certain physicians and therapists, especially in relation to children with Autism. SPD is usually categorized by hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity depending on the individual.


The Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood-Revised (DC:0-3R) acknowledges children as Hyposensitive/Underresponsive if they:

  • require high-intensity sensory input before they are able to respond
  • often seem unresponsive to their environment and unreceptive to overtures from others
  • appear sad or uninterested in their surroundings
  • fail to reach the threshold of arousal that would motivate them to act and interact.


The DC:0-3R acknowledges children as Sensory Stimulation-Seeking/Impulsive if they:

  • Require high-intensity, frequent, and/or long duration sensory input before they are able to respond.
  • Display high-risk behaviors in association with seeking high-intensity sensory stimuli, high need for motor discharge, accident proneness without clumsiness, high activity levels, constant contact with people and objects, deep pressure stimulation requirements, recklessness, disorganized behavior.
  • Preschoolers may also be excitable, aggressive, intrusive, daring and reckless, preoccupied with aggressive themes in pretend play.
  • The sensory-stimulation seeking child’s need for physical contact with people or objects leads to destruction of property, intrusion into other’s physical space or hitting without apparent provocation.  Limited exploration, restricted play repertoire, search for specific sensory input, lethargy, poor motor planning and clumsiness, apparent lack of interest in exploring properties of objects, playing challenging games, apathetic appearance, fatigability, withdrawal from stimuli, inattentiveness


Need Support? Check out these links for more information:

Sensory Integration Therapies for Children With Developmental and Behavioral Disorders – Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics





Sensory Processing Disorder Explained | SPD Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 2, 2017, from https://www.spdstar.org/basic/understanding-sensory-processing-disorder

ZERO TO THREE. (2005). Diagnostic classification of mental health and developmental disorders of infancy and early childhood: Revised edition (DC: 0-3R). Zero To Three Press, Washington, DC