Commonly Used Terminology
Since Dr. Ayres first proposed the theory of sensory integration, many theorists, researchers and clinicians have further developed her theory. Ayres’s original term, sensory integration dysfunction (DSI), was previously used to refer to the disorder of sensory processing and sensory integration. However, this term was often confused with the theoretical frame of reference, assessment process and intervention model used with this problem. Thus, as information on sensory processing grew it became evident that it was important to differentiate the terminology for diagnosis of problems associated with sensory integration deficits from that associated with intervention theory and techniques. Sensory Processing Disorder was therefore proposed as a diagnostic term which refers to the disorders resulting from poor sensory processing and sensory integration. This new diagnostic terminology, along with a diagnostic typology, was proposed and submitted for inclusion into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV–TR of the American Psychiatric Association (2000), due out in 2012. The hope is that recognition of SPD as a formal diagnosis will lead to more opportunities for funding for research, more effective interventions and more comprehensive insurance coverage.
Because of the evolving nature of sensory integration theory and practice, other terms related to SPD may be familiar and found in the literature.