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Sensory processing refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into responses. For those with Sensory Processing Disorder, sensory information goes into the brain but does not get organized into appropriate responses. Those with SPD perceive and/or respond to sensory information differently than most other people. Unlike people who have impaired sight or hearing, those with Sensory Processing Disorder do detect the sensory information; however, the sensory information gets “mixed up” in their brain and therefore the responses are inappropriate in the context in which they find themselves.
Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD (originally called Sensory Integration Dysfunction) is a neurological disorder in which the sensory information that the individual perceives results in abnormal responses. A more formal definition is: SPD is a neurophysiologic condition in which sensory input either from the environment or from one’s body is poorly detected, modulated, or interpreted and/or to which atypical responses are observed. Pioneering occupational therapist, psychologist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.
As founder of the first comprehensive Sensory Processing Disorder research program nationwide and author of groundbreaking Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and co-author of No Longer A SECRET, Dr. Lucy Jane Miller’s name is synonymous with sensory research, education, and treatment.
As founder of the first comprehensive Sensory Processing Disorder research program nationwide and author of groundbreaking Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and co-author of No Longer A SECRET, Dr. Lucy Jane Miller’s name is synonymous with sensory research, education, and treatment. Dr. Miller has been investigating, analyzing, and explaining SPD to other scientists, professionals, and parents since she studied under sensory integration pioneer A. Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR, more than thirty years ago. Since then, studies by Dr. Miller and her colleagues have helped bring SPD widespread recognition, and her work with families has improved countless lives. Thanks specifically to Dr. Miller’s mobilization of the research community, SPD now appears in two diagnostic manuals: the ICDL’s Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood and The Diagnostic Classification: Zero to Three. Her application has led to consideration of SPD for inclusion in the 2012 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V). Dr. Miller has also developed seven nationally standardized tests for use worldwide to assess and diagnose SPD and other developmental disorders and delays. Dr. Miller’s widespread recognition and enormous credibility within the professional community are part of the reason that advanced clinicians travel from all over the United States and other countries to be mentored by Dr. Miller and her team at the SPD Foundation (formerly KID Foundation) she founded three decades ago. The prominence of Dr. Miller’s research, her compassion and connection with sensational families, and her ability to explain the science of SPD clearly and empathetically make her a natural interview subject. She has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and ABC’s 20/20, in The New York Times and numerous other popular and professional publications. She is the author of more than sixty articles and/or chapters in scientific and professional journals, magazines, and textbooks and is a frequent presenter or speaker at conferences and workshops worldwide. She has received more than thirty funded awards and grants to further research on SPD and other childhood disabilities. In 2004, Dr. Miller received the Award of Merit from the American Occupational Therapy Association, the profession’s highest honor, reserved those therapists who have made an outstanding global contribution to the field. In 2005, she was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian award by the state of Colorado for her three decades of work with children who have Sensory Processing Disorder.