Processing refers to our brain’s amazing ability to make sense of sensory information so we can respond quickly, accurately and often creatively to stimuli. A processing disorder refers to a disruption in this neural system, causing an inefficient or inaccurate interpretation of sensory information. Note that processing disorders are not the same as vision or hearing impairment, though it is possible to have a diagnosis of both. The most common processing disorders are
Auditory Processing Disorder: Difficulty understanding and responding to spoken information, including following directions, conversations or lectures, particularly with background noise
Sensory Processing Disorder: Over- or under-responsiveness to environmental stimuli such as touch (e.g., itchy sweater), loud noises, bright lights, smell or taste. Under-responsiveness may present as thrill-seeking behavior.
Visual Processing Disorder: Difficulty interpreting visual information. May present in a variety of tasks such as discrimination (e.g., distinguishing different shapes or symbols), sequencing (e.g., lining up math problems), motor processing (coordinating movement such as copying from a board) and visual memory.
Slow Processing Speed: Requiring more time to take in, interpret, and respond to visual, auditory or motor information; taking longer than peers to complete tasks.
Understood.org: What is auditory processing disorder?
PDF article with basic information on definition, signs, diagnosis, treatment, and what can help presented in clear, straight-forward language
Child Mind Institute: What is auditory processing disorder?
Link to article explaining four basic auditory skills, with examples, and overlap of APD with other disorders
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA): Understanding auditory processing disorders in children
Link to article discussing terminology, diagnosis and treatment; intended for professional audience, so includes more jargon and nuanced information, but still accessible to all audiences
Understood.org: Understanding sensory processing disorder
Link to extensive information including a fact sheet, introductory video, tutorials, “deeper dives” and first-person narratives
Child Mind Institute: Sensory processing issues explained
Link to short article giving overview of SPD with examples, including good explanation of the “internal senses” proprioception and vestibular
UCSF Magazine: The Unbearable sensation of being
Link to in-depth article about the debate around SPD diagnosis, the latest research and an emerging framework for treatment
Understood.org: Classroom accommodations for visual processing disorder
PDF of short article geared toward classroom teachers
LD Online: Visual and auditory processing disorders
Link to article discussing common areas of difficulty and educational implications
National Center for Learning Disabilities: What is visual processing?
Link to six-minute Youtube video with Dr. Sheldon Horowitz explaining aspects of visual processing and how they relate to students with learning differences
Understood.org: What is slow processing speed?
Link to page with parent-friendly definition, signs, causes, how to help, fact sheet and short video introduction
ADDitude Magazine: Slow processing speed - signs and solutions for a misunderstood deficit
Link to short article by a current researcher explaining her findings for lay audiences
Understood.org: Slow processing speed and brain structure
PDF article offering easily digestible explanation of four current theories on the possible causes of slow processing speed