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Children with sensory differences who are not supported in childhood often grow into adults whose daily lives continue to be affected by their challenges interpreting sensory messages. These "sensational adults" may have difficulty performing routines and activities involved in work, close relationships, and recreation. Because adults with differences in the sensory integration process have struggled for most of their lives, they may also experience depression, underachievement, social isolation, and/or other secondary emotional or social effects.
Adolescents and adults who received and benefited from therapy in childhood may nonetheless find themselves struggling when they reach new developmental levels and/or life experiences. For example, a teenager who has adapted to the challenges of high school may leave home for college and find that living in the more chaotic setting of a dormitory triggers new issues. At times like these, short bursts of therapy or counseling that increases self-understanding and provides strategies for adapting to the new situation is often extremely helpful.
The goal of treatment for adults with sensory differences is to help them live fulfilled and happy lives. Most adults with sensory differences struggle because they have been misunderstood all their lives. Often, they don't even understand themselves. “Why don't I like to be with people, or go shopping, or go to movies?” Or “Why am I so clumsy?” Or “Why is it so hard for me to stick with things?” Or “Why do I feel so lethargic and unmotivated?”
Once adults receive support and education for their sensory issues, understanding grows. With direct therapy such as occupational therapy, changes in the way sensation is perceived take place. Strategies can be identified during treatment for avoiding or decreasing the intensity of those relationships and situations that cause failure and lead to anxiety and depression. Sensory techniques for home can be taught.
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Articles about SPD in adults may be found in Our Library under "Adults and SPD.” Titles of books about SPD can be found in our Selected Bibliography for Adults with Sensory Processing Disorder.