What is sensory discrimination disorder?

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What is sensory discrimination disorder? Please include a general definition as well as some common symptoms we may observe in each of the following sensory systems: auditory, visual, tactile, proprioceptive, olfactory, gustatory, vestibular, and interoceptive. (For common symptoms, feel free to use a table or bullet points to support being concise – you do not have to use complete sentences if you organize the information using one of these strategies.) Which of the principles discussed in your No Longer a SECRET text (p. 163-165) most resonated with you as you think about how to begin treating an individual with sensory discrimination disorder? In other words, were you already aware of all of these principles or did you learn something new that you should consider?
Sensory discrimination disorder is when children have difficulty perceiving information with one or more of their sensory systems (Porter, 2017). Discrimination is the brain’s ability to interpret and organize information (Porter, 2017). Therefore, lacking the ability to interpret and organize sensory information there oftentimes leads to confusion (Porter, 2017). Children experience difficulty when perceiving various sensory systems can include trouble distinguishing between the size, quality, shape, texture of sounds, and sights (Bialer & Miller, 2011). Examples of sensory discrimination disorder for different sensory systems include:
Auditory: Difficulty following directions due to poor listening skills.
Tactile: Difficulty with knowing where a scratch or bruise is on their body.
Visual: Difficulty lining up number columns on paper.
Vestibular: Difficulty when moving when eyes are closed.
Proprioception: Difficulty with knowing appropriate pressure with school materials.
Olfactory: Refuses to go to certain places because of the way it smells.
Gustatory: Difficulty with noticing the tase between salty, sweet, or spicy foods.
Interoception: Unaware of feelings such as hunger, thirst, or being full.
(Bialer & Miller, 2011)
I have limited experience when it comes to working with children and sensory-based disorders. Therefore, I learned several different techniques on what to address and incorporate during therapy sessions when working with children with sensory discrimination disorder. Principles within Bialer and Miller (2011) that I found the most interesting were measuring and weighing objects within the child’s environment, playing games that provide same and different information, and working on visualization. I thought the measuring and weighing technique was very interesting and beneficial for the child because it provides a form of biofeedback to increase their understanding of sensory inputs within their environment.
Champagne and Koomar (2011) suggest that discrimination problems may be at the root of some mental health issues, such as panic and anxiety, especially in which sensory system? Given what you have learned about difficulties in this sensory system, why do you think difficulty with discriminating this type of sensation might cause or contribute to panic and anxiety?
Referring to Champagne and Koomar (2011), sensory discrimination causes interference of body and gravitational awareness. Body and gravitational awareness are associated with proprioception and vestibular sensory input (Champagne & Koomar, 2011). Interference with these sensory systems can cause anxiety and panic because it is difficult for the child to have control of their body movements, unaware of the direction when falling as well as difficulty judging the amount of safe pressure throughout occupations (Bialer & Miller, 2011). I believe that the unknown direction and difficulty with movement would appear very scary to a child, which in return would instill panic and anxiety.
Think of an adult client, real or imagined, and consider how sensory discrimination issues might hinder this client in maintaining paid employment outside the home. Please describe where your client works (you don’t have to give a name, you can just say she is a waitress in a restaurant or a university professor or a nurse at a hospital, etc.). Next, list each sensory system and provide one functional example of how difficulty with discrimination in each system might hinder your client in performing specific duties related to their job. Be as specific as you can. For example, don’t just say that difficulty with auditory discrimination would make it hard for your client to understand what people are saying. Instead, using the example of a client who is a university professor, say that difficulty with auditory discrimination might make it difficult for Dr. Smith to accurately understand the questions her students ask during face-to-face lectures.
One adult client that comes to mind is a man who is a sheet metal worker who works at various locations but has a focus on working at commercial buildings. If this individual had a sensory discrimination disorder, it would present several difficulties for this man to participate in work-related occupations, hindering his ability to maintain paid employment. Examples of the difficulties this individual would face within each sensory system include:
Tactile: He would have difficulty differentiating the temperatures of surfaces, decreasing his overall safety.
Vestibular: He would have difficulty knowing where his body is moving within the workspace.
Proprioception: He would have difficulty applying appropriate force when using tools, damaging materials on the job.
Interoception: Is unable to know when he is hungry and may work through his lunch.
Olfactory: Have difficulty working in places with a strong variety of odors; plant/factory.
Gustatory: He may be very picky with the foods he eats, therefore limiting his options during lunch/breaks if working in a rural area.
Visual: He would have difficulties reading measurements on a tape measure.
Auditory: He would have difficulty following directions in order to complete a job correctly.
(Bialer & Miller, 2011)
Bialer, D., & Miller, L. J. (2011). No longer a secret: Successful strategies for children with sensory or motor challenges. Sensory World.
Champagne, T. & Koomar, J. (2011). Expanding the focus: Addressing sensory discrimination concerns in mental health. AOTA Special Interest Section Quarterly: Mental Health, 34(1), p. 1-4.
Porter, P. (2017, July 25). Subtype 3: Sensory discrimination disorder. Sensory Processing Disorder. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from,jumbles%20or%20confused%20environmental%2

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