SPD or Autism?

by Jen

My daughter will be 19 months. We are in the process of having her assessed. My question is; My daughter has many of the symptoms of SPD + autistic traits. Everyone seems to think she cannot be autistic because of her great non verbal communication, great social interaction... responds to name, follows direction, eye contact pretend play and affection. The problems she has are Language delay (babbles and jargon ++) and strange behavours with her hands (i.e., pin rolls fingers, flaps hands, holds hands together, hums to self, shuffles feet, and crosses fingers. Can she show these Autistic SPD traits and not be Autistic??

SPD Q & A ...

The simple answer is... absolutely. She can show some of those "autistic behaviors" without being autistic. It can indeed be SPD "only".

The particular behaviors you are describing can indeed be related to visual processing, sensory seeking, and language delays (unrelated to Autism). The fact that she shows good non-verbal communication and appropriate social skills for her age makes me feel that these hand movements, humming and shuffling are just her way of doing some self-stimulating behaviors to get more input and feedback from/to her senses.

By moving her hands and fingers, she may be seeking tactile, proprioceptive and visual input. Humming gives her auditory input she may be seeking and shuffling her feet gives her proprioceptive input (or tactile feedback to know where her feet are in space). She is probably HYPO-sensitive (under registers input) and her sensory system NEEDS more input to feel anything or get the proper amount of regulating input. My guess is that she is either soothed by this, or needs it to know where her body parts are in relation to self and space.

Here are some resources that can help you understand all of this better:

** Autism and Sensory Integration **

The Mislabeled Child

Sensational Kids

The Out-of-Sync Child

Lastly, you say she is being assessed. I really hope an OT evalutation is part of this, with an experienced or certified sensory integration therapist. To find out more about the evaluation and treatment process, including what you need to look for in an OT to address the sensory processing issues, Click Here!

I hope this helps clarify things some.

Take good care.
Michele Mitchell

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