Why is Autism on the Rise? A PT’s Opinion

CME WebsitesChild Development, Special Needs Diagnoses

As therapists we are often asked to explain why Autism is on the rise.  There are many hypotheses floating around in an attempt to explain this question, yet unfortunately few facts.  While I in no way wish to diminish the diagnosis of true Autism or even Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) consider this: All children with PDD (autism falls under this umbrella) have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), not ALL children with SPD have PDD.

Sensory Integration (SI) is somewhat of an unknown in the medical arena, and understandably so – it is just recently that studies are beginning to demonstrate the true efficacy of treatment.  There are some physicians who claim to not “believe” in SI – though I would ask, what is there to believe in?  Every piece of information received by the central nervous system is received as a sensation – be it touch, hearing, vision, smell, movement or taste.

Many dedicated Occupational Therapists (OT’s) – such as Dr. Lucy Jane Miller and Julia Harper OTR/L – have dedicated their life’s work to developing clear and proven protocols to help sensory integration be more understood and thus impact the lives of many. No treatment of PDD would be complete without SI.  If you have a child with PPD of any kind or possible SPD it is imperative that you seek out a physician who is well versed in the effects of SI treatments and understands the importance of such treatments.

In turn take it upon your self to question your OT to be sure they have more than entry level training in sensory integration but have in fact been to a continuing education course that teaches identification and specific treatments.  Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation website: http://www.spdfoundation.net

Tara Deringor, PT