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Is it ADHD or a Sensory Integration Dysfunction? Ten Years Later

In September 2006 (nearly 10 years ago) I presented a seminar to the Conejo Valley Mental Health Professionals Association at the Sherwood Country Club. A few weeks later an article appeared in the Acorn newspaper entitled “Demystifying Sensory Dysfunction” that summarized the seminar. The article pointed out how children, teens and even adults may have this little known condition, which affects them in their daily lives and manifests as attentional problems/hyperactivity, rage, anxiety or severe withdrawal and avoidance.

The major premise of the seminar and article, which seemed to stir up discussion among parents and teachers, was whether children who have been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD or other mental heath conditions may actually have been misdiagnosed. Many of these children were also prescribed medication. These children may have a neurological condition known as a Sensory Integration Disorder/Dysfunction that is treated much differently than ADHD; without medication.

Nearly a decade has passed since that first seminar and newspaper article, and many more parents, teachers and professionals understand the impact of how a Sensory Integration Disorder (aka Sensory Processing Disorder) can affect a child’s learning and behavior. In my private practice I continue to see children who have symptoms of ADHD/ADD or who have been diagnosed with this disorder. Many of these children are also taking medication, with little or no improvement in their behavior, emotional reactivity or learning. However, when I screen for the possibility of a Sensory Processing Disorder and connect the family with appropriate intervention, their lives change for the better.

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