Why the DSM 5 Doesn’t Acknowledge Sensory Integration Symptoms and How that Harms All of Our Clients

Register for CE programs nowRuth Pearlman, LCSW, LICSW, M.ED

Wed, Sept 14, 2022
10 am – 12 pm
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition where a person has difficulties regulating their senses within their environment. These are our clients who can experience the world as being “too loud” or “too intense”. They can experience the world as being so sensory over-whelming that their bodies go into a defensive “fight, flight or freeze” stance. For many people with SPD, their constant need to re-regulate their senses to adapt to the stimuli around them, creates symptoms of distractibility, irritability, anxiety, and depression.

So where is SPD in the DSM 5? It isn’t. Although more than half of all the diagnostic criteria of disorders in the DSM 5 describe symptoms of SPD, the APA refuses to acknowledge SPD as a disorder. Therefore, DSM 5 conditions such as ADHD, PTSD, Tourette’s, ASD, ODD, the Anxiety Disorders as well as Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, are never understood or treated through the lens of sensory integration. Yet all of the above disorders are, in large part, sensory-based disorders. Imagine trying to treat a client with ASD or PTSD and not teaching the client about their sensory system reactions?

In this interactive webinar, participants will:

  • Explore the long-delayed need to incorporate sensory integration issues into our working knowledge of the DSM 5
  • Recognize that negative behaviors of are better de-escalated when sensory overload can be quieted (calmed down), similar to “sensory rooms” and “sensory placed” used in schools
  • Consider the clinical cost of these misinterpretations for both children and adults