Adult Sensory Processing Disorder | The OT Toolbox

Adult Sensory Processing Disorder

A reader reached out recently and requested information related to adults with sensory processing disorder. Below is curated content on adults with sensory processing difficulties to accommodate sensory needs in order to live full and functional lives.  

Note: The information included below (and, like everything on this website) is not a substitute for therapy assessment, intervention, or medical advice. Please contact a physician or Occupational Therapist to assess and intervene. 

Start here by downloading the Sensory Processing Disorder Information booklet.

Adults with sensory processing disorder can use these SPD resources to find answers about sensory concerns.



Adult Sensory Processing Disorder



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In this day, many of us are more informed on everything! The internet and accessibility of information allows us to be knowledgeable beings more so than in past generations. At our fingertips is the ability to ask any question and receive immediate answers. It might be because of this that more and more adults are recognizing their own sensory issues or needs. 

About 5-16% of children live with sensory processing disorder.  When we think about adults who may have been suffering with undiagnosed sensory processing disorder, there are potentially many, many more individuals who struggle with sensory challenges.

Sensory processing disorder typically presents itself as a response in various, but common ways:
Tactile Functioning- Clothing, being in crowds, light or unexpected touch, etc
Vestibular Functioning- Riding in cars, elevators, escalators, uneven surfaces when walking, flying, amusement park rides, etc.
Auditory Functioning- Loud or sudden sounds, sounds that don't normally affect others like chewing, fingernail clipping, etc.
Motor Functioning- Clumsy with gross motor tasks including driving, operating the vacuum,  movement changes, etc.

There is a lot of information related to adult sensory processing disorder available online:

This self-test can help adults understand and identify sensory challenges they may experience. 

Here is another checklist for adolescents and adults to identify potential red flags of sensory processing disorder. This checklist is broken down into sensory modulation issues, sensory discrimination difficulties sensory-motor struggles, social or emotional regulation challenges, and internal regulation difficulties.

Here is another, more extensive checklist for adults who suspect sensory processing issues

This fact sheet from AOTA shares occupational therapy interventions with sensory integration approaches for adults. 

Another fact sheet from AOTA, this link addresses sensory integration and sensory processing disorder across the lifespan

This is a neurotypical's guide to adults with sensory processing disorder

This link has downloadable handbook for teens and adults with sensory processing disorder, as well as a free toolkit for adults who suspect they may suffer from sensory processing disorder. 

Here is a blog dedicated to life as an adult with SPD.

This Facebook group is a support group for adults with Sensory Processing Disorder


Sensory Processing Disorder Books and other resources for adults with SPD:
Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World by Sharon Heller, PhD

The Out-of-Sync Child Grows Up: Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder in the Adolescent and Young Adult Years by Carol Kranowitz


Uptight & Off Center: How Sensory Processing Disorder Throws Adults Off Balance & How to Create Stability 

by Sharon Heller PhD

Sensory Processing 101 by Dayna Abraham, Claire Heffron, Pamela Braley, Lauren Drobnjak


References:
May-Bensen, T. "Occupational Therapy for Adults with Sensory Processing Disorder". OT Practice. June 2009: 15-19.

Adults with sensory processing disorder can use these SPD resources to find answers about sensory concerns.


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