Sensory Over-Responsivity or Juvenile Bipolar Disorder

The International Misophonia Research Network (IMRN).

By Brout, Jennifer Jo

Article excerpt:

alone_being_alone_answers“The occupational therapist in our school district recently diagnosed my child with sensory over-responsivity (SOR), a subtype of sensory processing disorder (SPD). I was confused at first because this used to be called sensory integration disorder. However, the therapist explained that Katrina (my 10-year-old daughter) responded to neutral sensory stimuli as though it were aversive. This made sense to me because she gets visibly upset when she hears certain noises, is very light-sensitive, and hates to wear anything except 100 percent cotton clothing. Oddly enough, my sister (her aunt) has always complained about noises and her clothes being too tight. I was satisfied with the diagnosis and was ready to take Katrina to sensory integration therapy. However, my husband wanted a second opinion from a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist told us that our daughter has juvenile bipolar disorder and needs to be on serious medications. The doctor feels that even if Katrina is over-responsive to sensory stimuli, it does not account for her constant irritability. My husband thinks we should listen to the psychiatrist because she is an MD. Yet, I think my daughter is just like my sister, and I don’t want to put her on medications unnecessarily. What should I do?”

–A concerned parent

Mood symptoms associated with sensory stimuli will vary depending on sensory settings. Therefore, moods may appear unpredictable in children who are sensory over-responsive and can often be confused with the mood swings seen in childhood bipolar disorder. In addition to being moody, children with sensory over-responsivity may be generally irritable or inflexible, and it is not unusual that children with this disorder “explode” in response to sensory stimuli. In addition, they often have great difficulty calming down. Therefore, sensory over-responsivity can easily masquerade as bipolar disorder. However, there are distinct differences that both professionals and parents can look for. First, unlike children with bipolar disorder, irritability can be traced to specific sensory stimuli (certain sounds, certain tactile experiences) …


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