Children With Autism And SPD Show Differences in Brain Wiring

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Since over 90% of children with autism also have issues with sensory processing, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can be difficult to pinpoint. But researchers have found that children with SPD have decreased structural brain connections in specific sensory regions that are different than those found in autism. Identifying these differences could help with the development of autism and Asperger’s treatment.

The research was published in the journal PLOS ONE and is the first study to compare structural connectivity in the brains of autistic children versus those with a diagnosis of SPD. One of the most interesting findings was that the children with SPD showed even greater brain disconnection than the children with an autism diagnosis in some sensory-based tracts. But children with autism who did not have SPD showed impairments in the areas of the brain that process facial emotion and memory.

Children with sensory sensitivities struggle with processing stimulation, leading to hypersensitivity to sound, sight and touch and poor fine motor skills. SPD can be baffling for parents and has been a controversial topic for professionals who debate whether or not it constitutes its own disorder separate from autism.