Diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder

If you're like me, you're looking for concrete answers to your questions about your child’s challenges. You want to get a solid understanding of what your child is struggling with and why. That’s why, as parents, we feel a sense of relief once our child gets an official diagnosis. Even if it is something we're scared of, at least we know what we are dealing with and can take the appropriate action.


The challenging thing about SPD (and one of the reasons it is difficult to explain to others) is that, unlike disorders such as ADHD and Autism, SPD is not yet recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a valid disorder and therefore is not accepted by the psychological or medical communities. As a result, many children are either misdiagnosed or completely overlooked.

If you suspect something is “off” with your child and that he or she may possibly have sensory challenges, find an occupational therapist in your area who is “SI Certified (sensory integration).” Not all OTs have this certification and it is imperative for proper diagnosis and treatment of sensory processing challenges.

If, after an initial screening, it is determined that there are sufficient developmental red flags to warrant a full evaluation, the OT will use a combination of standardized tests, clinical observations, and parent-report measures to determine your child’s sensory profile and come up with a treatment plan to address his specific sensory needs.

Comorbid Diagnosis:

Comorbidity is when two disorders exist in one person. Research has shown that SPD has a strong comorbidity with the following disorders:

  • ADHD
  • Autism (Note: most children with SPD do not have Autism, but most children with Autism do have SPD)
  • Misphonia
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • OCD
  • Developmental Delay
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Speech Disorders
  • Learning Disabilities