I need help finding prevalence statistics for sensory processing disorder. Can you help?


Answered By: Linda Kern
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2016     Views: 576

This is a tough question! I was not able to find an answer based on survey data from the usual sources such as CDC or NINDS. While CDC collects data on comorbid conditions such as ADHD and ASD, it does not collect on SPD. When survey data is not available, the next step is to turn to research studies estimating the prevalence of the disorder. Depending on your purposes it may be necessary to look at prevalence of SPD in children with developmental disabilities or in children without comorbid conditions. The rates are significantly different.

Using the OT LibGuide I searched pertinent databases including Medline, CINAHL, and ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source using variations on "sensory processing disorder" AND prevalence. I also searched AJOT. My strategy was to locate articles prevalence as a major subject, and to find articles that mentioned prevalence in the lit reviews. I used the latter to expand my resultsby hunting down the articles that these lit reviews referenced. Last, I used the "times cited in the database" feature in CINAHL to locate more recent articles that had cited th ones I found.

Take a look at these for stats and to see how the authors treated the issue of prevelence:

Ahn, R., Miller, L., Milberger, S., & McIntosh, D. (2004). Prevalence of parents' perceptions of sensory processing disorders among kindergarten children. The American Journal Of Occupational Therapy, 58(3), 287-293. doi:10.5014/ajot.58.3.287

Tomchek, S., & Dunn, W. (2007). Sensory processing in children with and without autism: A comparative study using the Short Sensory Profile. American Journal Of Occupational Therapy, 61(2), 190-200. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.2.190

Gavin, W. J., Dotseth, A., Roush, K. K., Smith, C. A., Spain, H. D., & Davies, P. L. (2011). Electroencephalography in children with and without sensory processing disorders during auditory perception. American Journal Of Occupational Therapy, 65(4), 370-377. doi:10.5014/ajot.2011.002055

Brown, T., Morrison, I., & Stagnitti, K. (2010). The convergent validity of two sensory processing scales used with school-age children: comparing the Sensory Profile and the Sensory Processing Measure. New Zealand Journal Of Occupational Therapy, 57(2), 56-65.Retrieved from      An interesting observation from the lit review: "These figures clearly indicate the importance of having instruments and scales that are valid and reliable when screening and assessing sensory processing issues."

This is a good starting point for a discussion of prevalence. If you already have these, let's set up an appointment and work together.

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