Play It Forward Therapy

The 3 Primary Patterns and Subtypes of Sensory Processing Disorder

The 3 Primary Patterns and Subtypes of Sensory Processing Disorder

How Occupational Therapy Can Help Kids With SPD

  • It’s essential that we understand which type of sensory “short circuit” we’re dealing with in order to be able to provide the best interventions and to recommend the most effective tools and equipment.
  • It’s equally important for kids to learn about how their own bodies and brains work.
  • Once kids and adults better understand how their brains are wired, they can become more aware of their sensory triggers and learn what types of sensory tools help them to feel better while calming the body and mind.
  • The goal is to help kids go from feeling helpless and out of control to feeling empowered and confident in how they manage their own sensory challenges throughout the day.

Based upon current research we know the following to be true:

  • Current research indicates there are 6 primary subtypes that fall under the 3  primary patterns.
  • A person may have anywhere from 1 to 8 of the sensory systems affected (Visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, vestibular, proprioceptive and interoceptive systems).
  • Typically, there will be a predominant cluster of symptoms to be able to identify which subtype of SPD is expressed the most strongly. However, it is not uncommon for a child to have a combination or some overlap between the patterns.
  • Occupational therapists who have had advanced training in clinical observations for sensory integrative dysfunction along with standardized testing and parent, teacher and child report, can assess which sub-type of SPD is the predominant pattern, based upon how it is expressed both clinically and behaviorally.
  • Other factors such as home life and school environment may influence the severity of the symptoms.
    • Example: if bright lights are a trigger and a child’s home has natural or dim lighting, then the child’s problem with processing visual input may not be noticeable at home.  However, this same child, when working under the fluorescent lights of the classroom, one might observe an over-responsive reaction in response to the visual input (that’s not normally a problem at home).
The child has difficulty regulating responses to sensory input.
The 3 Sub-types

1.  Sensory Over Responsivity (SOR)

2.  Sensory Under Responsivity (SUR)

3.  Sensory Craving (SC)

Pattern 2: Sensory-Based Motor Disorder (SBMD)

Pattern 1: Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD)

The child has difficulty with balance, motor coordination, and the performance of skilled, non-habitual and/or habitual motor tasks.

The 3 Sub-types

1.  Somatodyspraxia

2.  Bilateral Integration and Sequencing Deficits (BIS)

3.  Postural Ocular Disorder (PO)

Somatodyspraxia and Bilateral Integration and Sequencing Deficits commonly co-occur.  Also known as Dyspraxia.

Pattern 3: Sensory Discrimination Disorder (SDD)

The child has difficulty interpreting subtle qualities of objects, places, people or other environments.  One or more of the sensory systems may be impacted:  Vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell, vestibular, proprioceptive and/or the interoceptive sense.

Note: The chart and pattern descriptions are based upon the research of Dr. Lucy Jane Miller (STAR Institute of Research)

Click Here to learn more about The 8 sensory


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