The Origin of Sensory Processing Disorder

During A.Jean Ayres 35 year career as a scientist, she discovered a new "theory" to explain a variety of neurological disorders in children.

She was a brain researcher, and an Occupational Therapist. At the time of her discovery (1970's) the highest standing scientists in those years were resistant to her findings, because they did not follow the accepted beliefs of the time. [Sensory Integration, Theory and Practice, 1991]

She was not a world-renowned scientist, thus lower on the scientific totem pole, so to speak. She did not belong to certain professional "societies", and was viewed as an outsider, in this field. Although her research and theory had educational implications, she was not in that field. As her work gained acceptance in her profession, resistance to it stiffened in the educational and medical communities.

During her lifetime (1920-1988) she was distressed by this injustice, yet never stopped pursuing her research. It is the continuing research and the passage of time, that is proving to these same professional societies, the validity of her theory.

Indeed, the testing and research continues, and many of today’s scholars are her former students. As the stunning case histories of so many children increases, so does this disorder, known as Sensory Processing Disorder, rapidly gain more widespread acceptance.

And so we enter the here and now...

Across the globe the acceptance and practice is spreading. Is it recognized by all states yet?  No.  Will it be?  Yes!  Many areas of our country have already seen and understood the benefits of this therapy, some are still behind.

Is it possible that the medical community misdiagnoses children, because of  "ignorance" or resistance?  A sad resounding Yes!

Is it true that far too many children go without treatment because insurance companies will not pay for it?  Yes. Too, too sad.

Some children are medicated when they do not need it, some children misdiagnosed, and some children lost altogether, through the cracks of resistance. How many dropped out of school? How many abused, because they are hard to handle?

How many more little lives need to be thrown away, before the world accepts this, and embraces the hope of helping our children?

As each and every one of us gets our kids in therapy, and happily reports their progress, and their changed lives, it grows. Every parent, every advocate, every study done, every magazine, and article issued and research published...each and every time one of us "enlightens" an educator or a doctor, or another parent, we make a chink in the wall.

And that wall is surely, slowly coming down, as it should have almost 30 years ago. With this generation, and our ability to speak up loud and clear, we will not allow another generation of  "lost" children.

Our very questions open doors, even though we may not know it.  Keep asking, keep talking, keep advocating, keep believing in our kids!

Copyright © Michelle Morris. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: 

Michelle Morris is the mother of six, and parent of a child with a Sensory Processing Disorder. She is whole heartedly dedicated to promoting awareness and advocacy for families with SPD children. She has published over 30 articles supporting and educating parents about SPD. 

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Related Resources

Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist - comprehensive SPD Checklist; signs and symptoms of tactile, auditory, olfactory and oral defensiveness, as well as proprioceptive and vestibular dysfunction.

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