There I said it. It might be unpopular, you might not agree, but I am living a life that is telling me otherwise.
Nothing boils my blood more to hear people ask me "is he autistic?" They think he is because they believe Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism (ASD) are one and the same. I could not disagree more.
Autism doesn't "come and go" with sensory events. As we've seen with both boys, but particularly Summy, some days are worlds better than others, but those better/worse days are ALWAYS tied to sensory events. And the swings can be HUGE. Some days he's on task, honed-in and cracking jokes left and right. Some days he's practically catatonic. We have lots more trouble in the winter when they can't get out and get input. Jack's drooling kicks up, he's covered in bruises...but when we get that input, those things stop happening.
I must add the disclaimer that neither of my children has been diagnosed as autistic, so I do not live with autism every day. In my experience as an educator, my autistic students are so much more literal, more concrete. Don't get me wrong, I know Summy can be very literal (ear hats anyone?) but he also has amazing imaginative play schemes, he is able to express his feelings/emotions, ("You are really hurting my feelings and making me sad! See my face?") and he is able to be affectionate spontaneously and often. I am not arguing that some autistic children aren't able to do these things, but from my experiences they aren't able to do them consistently like my boys can. (Or maybe the better way of saying that is "in a way that society expects them to.")
It frustrated me because I "get it" that some (but not all) autistic kids have sensory issues. However I get tired of blanket statements from people that all SPD kids are "on the spectrum." My main reason for arguing this point, besides the fact that I believe SPD should be a separate diagnosis in the DSM V, is that I believe the treatment/therapy model should look different for kids with SPD versus those with autism. From our experiences, you know that the "burst" therapy model has worked amazingly for us. I question if that method would work as well with a child who was diagnosed as only "autistic."
I also have trouble because on a lot of the forums/groups I am in for SPD, most if not all the parents have a kid with autism. Sometimes it is hard to sort the "SPD" stuff from the autism stuff, and often I am left feeling frustrated and unable to connect.
I don't know if kids are being "over" diagnosed as Autistic as some have speculated. Perhaps some of those kids have SPD and have been mislabeled. It will be interesting to see if/when SPD becomes its own standalone diagnosis.
What are your thoughts on the topic? I'd love to hear from you!