The key difference between sensory processing disorder and autism is that sensory processing disorder is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties in understanding and responding to external stimuli, while autism is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties in communication, socialization issues, and repetitive behaviours.
Neurological disorders or disabilities represent a wide range of disorders such as sensory processing disorder, autism, epilepsy, learning disabilities, neuromuscular disorders, autoimmune autistic disorder (AAD), brain tumors, and cerebral palsy. Some of these conditions are congenital or emerge before birth. The other conditions may be caused by tumors, degenerations, trauma, infections, or structural defects. Sensory processing disorder and autism are two different types of neurological disorders.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Sensory Processing Disorder
3. What is Autism
4. Similarities – Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism
5. Sensory Processing Disorder vs Autism in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Sensory Processing Disorder vs Autism
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder is a medical condition that makes it difficult for the brain to receive and respond to information that comes in through the senses. It is also known as sensory integration dysfunction. Some people who are diagnosed with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. For example, some common sounds may be painful or overwhelming – for example, a light touch of a shirt may chafe the skin. Some people with this neurological disorder may be uncoordinated, bump into things, unable to tell where their limbs are and find it hard to engage in conversation. The exact cause of this disorder is still not known. But it has been found that hypersensitivity to light and sound may have a strong genetic component. Other experiments have shown abnormal brain activity when exposed to light and sound.
Sensory processing disorder can be diagnosed through sensory integration and praxis tests (SIPT), sensory processing measures (SPM), and psychological investigations. Furthermore, sensory processing disorder can be treated by occupational therapy, physical therapy, and sensory integration therapy.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurological disorder related to brain development. Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorder. The term autism spectrum disorder refers to a wide range of symptoms and severity. It influences how a person perceives and socializes with others. Autism causes problems in social interaction and communication. This disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behaviour.
The symptoms of autism may include failure to respond to their name, resisting cuddling and holding, poor eye contact, lacking facial expression, not speaking or delayed speech, speaking with an abnormal tone, repeating words, not appearing to understand simple questions, not expressing emotions or feelings, inappropriate social interaction, performing repetitive movements, developing specific routines or rituals, problems with coordination, fascination by details of an object, unusual sensitivity to light and sound, and specific food preferences. Autism can be caused due to genetics (associated with Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome) and environmental factors (viral infections, medications, complications during complications, and air pollutants).
Autism can be diagnosed through physical examination and using DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Furthermore, treatment options for autism include behaviour and communication therapies, educational therapies, family therapies, other therapies (speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and psychological therapy), and medications (antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants).
What are the Similarities Between Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism?
- Sensory processing disorder and autism are two different types of neurological disorders.
- Both conditions may sometimes show similar symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and sound.
- Both conditions have a genetic predisposition.
- Children are predominately affected by both conditions.
- Both conditions can be diagnosed by psychologists through psychological investigation.
- They can be treated through specific therapies.
What is the Difference Between Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism?
Sensory processing disorder is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties in understanding and responding to external stimuli, while autism is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties in communication, socialization issues, and repetitive behaviours. Thus, this is the key difference between sensory processing disorder and autism.
The below infographic presents the differences between sensory processing disorder and autism in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Sensory Processing Disorder vs Autism
Neurological disorders are disorders that affect the brain as well as nerves throughout the human body and spinal cord. Sensory processing disorder and autism are two different types of neurological disorders. Sensory processing disorder causes difficulties in understanding and responding to external stimuli, while autism causes difficulties with communication, socialization issues, and repetitive behaviours. So, this is the key difference between sensory processing disorder and autism.
1. Goodman, Brenda. “Sensory Processing Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.” WebMD.
2. “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
1. “Autism” By National Human Genome Research Institute (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
2. “20200711 Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – categories and subtypes” By RCraig09 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia