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What Are the Different Types of Processing Disorders?

By Jennifer Long
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Processing disorders are any disorders that directly affect the brain’s ability to process information that comes from any of the senses properly. A processing disorder is grouped into one of four categories based on which area of processing has problems: sensory, visual, auditory, and language. Each of these areas can lead to different processing deficiencies.

Sensory processing disorders are one of the four possible types of processing disorders a person can have. A sensory disorder occurs when the central nervous system cannot properly process information that comes from the senses of the body. Although sensory processing encompasses all of the senses, vision and auditory processing are generally not included unless they are part of a complete processing disorder that involves multiple areas. When a disorder like this is determined to occur with sensory processing, the disorder most commonly affects sensations of the skin, sensitivity to temperature changes, and other such extreme sensitivities. The brain is not able to filter through all of the information effectively.

Visual disorders are strictly limited to visual processing. Someone who suffers from a disorder in this group has difficulty processing things that are seen. The sufferer may not be able to identify letters or determine differences in shapes. He or she can also have difficulties with background and foreground object selection. Visual memory, which is remembering recent things seen, can also suffer with this disorder.

Another group of disorders affects auditory processing. People who have a disorder in auditory processing do not properly process information gathered from sound. Background noises blend in with foreground sounds. Short-term sound information, such as lists or directions that have been spoken, cannot be easily recalled. Some people have difficulty distinguishing similar sounds, particularly words.

Language disorders commonly occur in conjunction with auditory disorders. In fact, the symptoms of this type of processing disorder are similar to or caused by those experienced with problematic auditory processing. Communicating through speech is difficult, especially if auditory information is not processed properly. A person may pause in the middle of words or use wrong words. Stuttering and sound repetition are common as well.

Treatment for processing disorders depends on the area affected. Although some types of processing problems cannot be completely cured, there are treatments to help reduce problems. For example, audiologists can help with hearing difficulties and speech therapists can work with language problems. Various specialists are able to increase function and help improve the sufferer’s quality of life.

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