In this blog post, we cover resources on adult sensory processing disorder. So often, as occupational therapists, it’s the pediatric realm that we thing about regarding SPD (sensory processing disorder). However, due to more knowledge, access to information, and increasing diagnoses among adults, when it comes to sensory processing disorder, adults may struggle just as much as children. There is no better time than now to get adults the resources and tools they need to support sensory processing challenges that impact functioning.
Sensory Processing Disorder in Adults
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 grabbing the Sensory Processing Disorder Information booklet.
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.
Online Resources for Adults with Sensory Processing Differences
There is a lot of information related to adult sensory processing disorder available online:
1. Adult Sensory Processing Differences Self-Tests- This self-test can help adults understand and identify sensory challenges they may experience.
2. Adult Sensory Processing Checklists- 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.
3. Sensory Processing Checklist for Adults- Here is another, more extensive checklist for adults who suspect sensory processing issues.
4. Sensory Processing Differences Fact Sheet- This fact sheet from AOTA
5. Sensory Processing Across the Lifespan Fact Sheet- Another fact sheet from AOTA, this link addresses sensory integration and sensory processing disorder across the lifespan.
6. Sensory Processing Disorder Guide for Neurotypicals- This is a neurotypical’s guide to adults with sensory processing disorder.
7. Adult Sensory Processing Handbook- This link has printable 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.
8. Adult Sensory Processing Information Blog- Here is a blog dedicated to life as an adult with SPD.
9. Facebook Groups- This Facebook group is a support group for adults with Sensory Processing Disorder.
Sometimes creating a specific and strategic sensory diet for adults that addresses individual needs with sensory tools and strategies that work within the adult’s day, workplace, and home life can be used.
Sensory Processing Disorder Books for adults with SPD:
The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook by Colleen Beck, OTR/L
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
May-Bensen, T. “Occupational Therapy for Adults with Sensory Processing Disorder”. OT Practice. June 2009: 15-19.
The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook walks you through sensory processing information, each step of creating a meaningful and motivating sensory diet, that is guided by the individual’s personal interests and preferences.
The Sensory Lifestyle Handbook is not just about creating a sensory diet to meet sensory processing needs. This handbook is your key to creating an active and thriving lifestyle based on a deep understanding of sensory processing.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.