Special needs parenting

Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder in Adults: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

May 15, 2023

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects an individual’s ability to process sensory information from the environment. It is commonly associated with children, but it can also affect adults. SPD in adults can be challenging to identify, as it often presents itself in different ways than it does in children.

In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive overview of Sensory Processing Disorder in adults, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. We will also discuss the benefits and challenges of living with SPD as an adult and offer practical tips and solutions for managing sensory processing difficulties.

Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder in Adults

SPD can manifest itself differently in adults than it does in children. While children may exhibit hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to stimuli, adults may experience more subtle symptoms that are difficult to identify. Some common symptoms of SPD in adults include:

  • Difficulty filtering out background noise
  • Oversensitivity to certain textures or fabrics
  • Avoidance of certain foods or smells
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination
  • Overwhelmed by bright lights or loud noises
  • Anxiety or panic attacks triggered by sensory input
  • Difficulty with social interactions due to sensory overload or underload

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek professional help for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Causes of Sensory Processing Disorder in Adults

The exact cause of SPD is not yet fully understood. However, research suggests that genetics may play a role. Studies have shown that SPD tends to run in families, indicating that there may be a genetic component to the disorder.

Other factors that may contribute to SPD include premature birth, exposure to toxins during pregnancy or early childhood, and brain injuries. It’s important to note that SPD can also occur without any known cause or contributing factor.

Treatment Options for Sensory Processing Disorder in Adults

There is no cure for SPD, but there are various treatment options available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment plans are often tailored to the individual’s specific needs and may include:

  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Medication for comorbid conditions such as anxiety or depression
  • Dietary changes or supplements

It’s essential to work with a healthcare professional who specializes in sensory processing disorders to develop an effective treatment plan.

The Benefits and Challenges of Living with Sensory Processing Disorder as an Adult

Living with SPD as an adult can be both challenging and rewarding. On the one hand, individuals with SPD may struggle with everyday tasks and social interactions due to sensory overload or underload. On the other hand, many adults with SPD have developed coping mechanisms that allow them to function successfully in their daily lives.

Some benefits of living with SPD as an adult include:

  • A heightened ability to notice subtle changes in the environment
  • Creativity and originality in problem-solving
  • An appreciation for sensory experiences such as music, art, and nature
  • A unique perspective on the world around them

However, living with SPD as an adult can also present challenges, such as:

  • Difficulty with social interactions and forming relationships
  • Difficulty finding employment that accommodates sensory needs
  • Increased risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions
  • Frustration and isolation due to a lack of understanding from others

It’s important for individuals with SPD to seek support from healthcare professionals, loved ones, and support groups to manage these challenges effectively.

Practical Tips and Solutions for Managing Sensory Processing Difficulties in Adults

If you or someone you know is living with SPD, there are several practical tips and solutions that can help manage sensory processing difficulties. Some of these include:

  • Create a sensory-friendly environment at home or work by reducing noise, bright lights, or strong smells.
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs in noisy environments.
  • Avoid clothing with tags or rough fabrics that may cause discomfort.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to reduce anxiety.
  • Engage in activities that stimulate the senses in a positive way, such as listening to music or going for a walk in nature.

It’s also essential to communicate your needs with loved ones and coworkers. Educating others about SPD can help them understand your experiences better and provide the necessary support.


Sensory Processing Disorder can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily life. While it presents unique challenges for adults, there are various treatment options available that can help manage symptoms effectively. It’s essential for individuals with SPD to seek professional help and support from loved ones to manage the challenges that come with this condition. By understanding SPD and developing effective coping mechanisms, individuals with SPD can lead fulfilling lives and appreciate their unique perspective on the world around them.