Related but Separate: Autism and Sensory Issues


Most people know that Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are two separate diagnoses.  However, autism and sensory issues are often automatically paired like peanut butter and jelly. While a child may have both diagnoses, it is not always the case.


A child with a diagnosis of ASD may not have sensory challenges (although it is common), and a child diagnosed with SPD does not necessarily have Autism.


Defining ASD and SPD


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder with many challenges such as underdeveloped speech, communication, motor, or cognitive skills. This often results in challenges in social interactions. While autism and sensory issues may be related, sensory sensitivities are not the primary characteristic of Autism.


Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition where sensory inputs in the brain do not integrate with each other correctly. This results in unpleasant reactions to everyday experiences in many environments. A child could display none of the characteristics typical of autism and sensory issues may still pose a significant challenge.

Autism and Sensory Issues

Autism and Sensory Issues

It is common for children with autism to struggle with sensory issues like loud or persistent noises, unfamiliar tastes and textures, and many others. But, do not assume that sensory sensitivities or challenges are sufficient for a person to have an SPD diagnosis – whether or not they already have an autism diagnosis.  Despite the links between autism and sensory issues, your child may not receive an SPD diagnosis.


What if My Child Really Has Both?


Don’t fret, sensory issues and autism can be supported if you put the right plan in place. The right IEP can make it possible for your child to succeed in school. Get ready for the next meeting by getting ExceptionALLY. Personalized supports for both ASD and SPD will prepare you for the special education process.






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