Since SPD symptoms mimic ASD symptoms, how can you distinguish the 2 disorders ????

The SPD Help Line Answers…

Ah, now THAT is a great question. And, one I am not 100% clear on myself. However, here is what I do know. They are indeed two distinct disorders; you can have both or one without the other. They do have many, many similarities, but also differences. I know professionals who are familiar with both will be able to tell the difference, but often they are two different disciplines that assess and diagnose the two. A neurologist, neurophysiologist, or developmental pediatrician will do the assessments for ASD, and an Occupational Therapist will do the assessments for SPD.

One of the main differences is the social skills and social language piece. Those with ASD have considerable difficulties understanding social skills and social cues. Although SPD kids can have social skill issues, they stem from different reasons. The social skill issues with ASD will be more brain based (a particular part of the brain) and SPD social issues will be based on modulation or discrimination issues revolving around sensory input, organization, and output. A trained professional will be able to tell the difference.

This issue is far more complicated than I can (or even know how to) explain here. But, the BEST book I have found to explain the differences is called The Mislabeled Child by Dr.’s Brock and Fernette Eide. They have an amazing understanding of these two and more (such as ADHD, central auditory processing, etc.) disorders and how they are similar but different. They explain it all in very parent friendly terms, yet deep enough and technical enough for the professionals to understand. They also give some great strategies in dealing with the different diagnoses. I would highly suggest getting your hands on this book to fully understand the differences.

Also, the Eide’s have a wonderful blog that if you search through past entries you will find some additionally clarifying articles. Their blog is I suggest spending some good quality time on it to find out more, and/or also emailing them to help understand the answer to how SPD is different from ASD.

There are similarities and differences. But know that about 90% of ASD individuals also have SPD (as talked about in Sensational Kids, by Dr. Lucy Jane Miller), but that the opposite is not true. In other words, if you have ASD, the chances of you having SPD are very high. If you have SPD, the chances of you having ASD is very low. It is not easy to explain… Dr. Lucy Miller and Dr.‘s Brock and Fernette Eide do a much better job than I ever could. They can help you more than I can. Check their books out, ok?

Meanwhile… are there other parents or professionals that can help explain the difference?? Any input you have would be greatly appreciated!! You can submit your thoughts in the comments box below. Thank you in advance for helping to clarify this. I could use some help.

Take care.
Michele Mitchell

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