She didn't seem interested, which doesn't surprise me all that much. SPD is not well understood by many childcare professionals and so most people haven't heard much about it. Some experts estimate that half of all kids diagnosed with ADHD actually have Sensory Processing Disorder, which says to me that even the medical professionals, teachers, and therapists don't understand the difference between SPD and ADHD.
I think this is a big problem, because many, many kids are going undiagnosed, which means they are not getting the help they need. How can you really help your child unless you know exactly what is going on with him? If your child actually has sensory problems, but his doctor just medicates him for ADHD, you aren't getting to the root cause of the problem, which I would think would just mean more problems down the line.
Part of Sensory Integration Therapy is teaching a child to cope with his sensory needs and eventually regulate himself. SPD is treated primarily with therapy in the form of fun games that don't have any scary side effects, like medicine can. (Some kids are also medicated, but that is only one small part of the treatment.) These are exercises that help strengthen a kid's muscles and improve his coordination. How could that be bad? It definitely takes time and doesn't necessarily have immediate results like medicine can, but in the long run, it rewires their brains so that they don't have as many sensory problems. This treats the actual problem, not just the symptoms.
I do understand that many kids need medication for ADHD and SPD. I am not contesting that. I just wish more doctors, therapists and teachers knew about SPD so they could help kids get the proper diagnosis and help.
Lucy Jane Miller, an expert on Sensory Processing Disorder addresses ADHD in her book Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder. She even has a very clear and informative chart that outlines how to tell the difference between the two disorders.
Here are some of the differences, according to Miller: (See Sensational Kids for a complete list of differences and for a very clear and comprehensive explanation of SPD.)
Can stop impulsive behavior if sensory input is sufficient
Cannot stop impulsive behavior regardless of sensory input
Crave activity that is specifically related to sensation (usually vestibular and sometimes proprioceptive
Craves novelty and activity that is not necessarily related to specific sensations
Looks more organized after receiving intense sensory input
Does not become more organized after receiving intense sensory input
Touches, pulls, and/or pokes people or objects; frequently seems to need more tactile input than most children
Tends to talk all the time, impulsively interrupting; has trouble waiting turn in a conversation.
Has difficulty focusing attention
Often in a daze; seems not interested in material enough to focus on it
Interested, but makes careless mistakes; focus gets diverted easily
Does not follow directions well
Unaware of directions being given; has trouble discriminating sounds or has difficulty with motor planning and thus appears to be not following directions
Gets started, but has difficulty remembering or following through on a long list of verbal directions; no motor component contributes to difficulty with directions
I highly recommend reading this book, especially if you suspect your child might have sensory issues. And if you wonder whether your child actually has ADHD or some other disorder, this book might be a good place to start.