Inattention:Sensory Processing Disorder or Attention Hyperactivity Disorder

By: Dr. Ohel Soto Raíces, M.D. Pediatric psychiatrist

How many times have we listened in our homes, classrooms or work this one doesn't pay attention, it's like he doesn't listen, I have to tell him things like 100 times. Negative, probably stereotyped comments that describe a conflictive situation. We conclude that there is difficulty in attention and we seek to reprimand or stimulate interest. It is not common for us to think of the existence of a sensory or cognitive development problem. Sensory problems mean that the way we feel and perceive the world around us can affect our attention. In addition, it could affect the way the brain carries out its function of attention and concentration. We will discuss the relationship that could exist between sensory disorders and attention deficit.. 

¿What is Sensory Processing and Integration Disorder? 

It is a condition where the body's nervous system has difficulty correctly registering sensory information it receives through hearing, smell, taste, vision, touch, and body position or movement. Such registration difficulties may manifest as an increase or decrease in what is felt in the body. They also cause discomfort or discomfort that affects behavior. For example, if the tone of speech at home is high, or there are loud sounds on TV, the affected person would experience discomfort or pain in the ears and head. So, to handle this situation, the person could try to ignore or reduce the noises, and their attention and concentration to the other aspects that require attention could be affected. So in each place or moment where the sensations cause a negative effect, the functioning of the person could be affected, but not when the stimuli or sensations are controlled.

¿What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 

It is a developmental condition where the brain has shown that it has areas that develop differently, and its functioning is affected in areas such as attention, concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.


In this condition, the challenge is not what is felt or registered with the body's senses, but rather the brain is trying to attend to all the stimuli that surround it, but with little efficiency. For example, the brain tries to register the sound on the radio, on TV, what the family is talking about, their thoughts and everything they observe. This gives little time to attend to all the stimuli and therefore the recorded information is interrupted and concentration is affected. These skills are frequently affected.


¿What can I do if I suspect attention or concentration problems other than sensory problems??


First, request evaluations from health professionals, both for sensory aspects, as well as for aspects of attention and concentration. They will then determine how sensory issues exacerbate symptoms of inattention and poor concentration. In this way, a treatment plan can be developed that addresses all the areas evaluated respectively.

Typically this multidisciplinary group is made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, in addition to visual and auditory information processing evaluations. For the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder apart from the psychological treatment to modify behavior, the psychiatrist is in charge of the medications. When it comes to a Sensory Processing Disorder it is not always necessary to use medication.

It is recommended to have a team of professionals to manage attention difficulties in conjunction with sensory problems. In this way you will obtain results that lead to an integrated development at an emotional, behavioral and cognitive level.

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