Autism Spectrum Disorder vs. Sensory Processing Disorder

December 4, 2023

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) are two distinct conditions that share a common thread of sensory sensitivity. This post will explore the key differences between ASD and SPD, shedding light on these conditions to promote better understanding and awareness on the products that can benefit individuals with these conditions. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 

Autism Spectrum Disorder, often referred to as autism, is a neurodevelopmental disorder (1) characterised by a range of symptoms related to communication, social interaction, and behaviour. People with ASD typically face challenges in various areas, including sensory processing, but their condition encompasses a wider spectrum of traits and characteristics. Some common aspects of ASD include: 

  • Struggles with Social Communication – such as making eye contact, understanding non-verbal cues, and engaging in reciprocal conversations 
  • Repetitive Behaviours or Interests 
  • Sensory Sensitivities – may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory stimuli, such as lights, sounds, textures, and tastes 
  • Speech and Language Delays – language development may be delayed in some individuals with autism, leading to difficulties in communication 

At the Sensory Store we have a number of products that can benefit individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in their everyday lives. These include: 

Conflict and Resolution Games This conflict and resolution game provides a unique way to teach individuals who struggle with emotional regulation and expression how to handle conflicts and resolve differences in a positive, solution focused way.

Chewigem Chube Necklace: This necklace is a simple, fuss free tactile and oral fidget for all ages. Designed for mild to moderate chewers, this necklace can provide a new form of sensory regulation or a safe alternative to chewing fingers, nails or pencils.  


Neon Infinity Cube: Use one hand or two to flip and fold this cube into a variety of shapes and sizes. This pocket-sized fidget is perfect for busy hands and can be it can be flipped or folded into a wide array of shapes and challenges its user with a whole cosmos of tricks to master.

Calm Down Bottle: These bright, glittery bottles are perfect to assist with breathing and focus as well as calm play and aid in creative thinking and exploration. 


Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) 

Sensory Processing Disorder, on the other hand, primarily revolves around difficulties in processing and responding to sensory input (2). People with SPD may have an atypical response to sensory stimuli, which can lead to behavioural and emotional challenges. Some common aspects of SPD include: 

  • Sensory Overload or Under-Responsiveness – highly sensitive to certain sensory stimuli, or not notice or respond to sensory input as expected 
  • Behavioural and Emotional Reactions – can lead to various behavioural and emotional reactions, such as meltdowns, withdrawal, or avoidance, as a response to sensory triggers 
  • Focused on Sensory Processing – SPD primarily concerns sensory challenges and does not encompass the broader social and communication difficulties seen in ASD 
  • Not Exclusive to Autism: SPD can occur in individuals who do not have autism, and it can also coexist with other conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety disorders 

At the Sensory Store, we also have many products available that can help a person with SPD to regulate sensory input and output. These include products for all needs and senses.

Warmies Weighted Toys: Warmies weighted toys are an adorable addition to any household. Their weight and lavender scent can provide both deep pressure touch and calming scents, creating a soothing and grounding experience that promotes relaxation and a sense of well-being. 

Essential Oil Stretchy Sand: This non sticky, nontoxic sensory sand comes in a variety of different scents created from different blends of essential oils. Squeeze, stretch or simply let the sand run through your fingers to unlock a new world of tactile and smelly stimulation.  

Lava Lamp: Lava lamps are a great way to add a soothing glow to any room! No need for harsh, bright lighting when the colourful swirls of wax are just a button press away. 


Earmuffs: Our Muffy Earmuffs and Alpine Defender Earmuffs are the perfect, comfy solution for children aged 5 to 16 and adults aged 16 and up. Whether at school, at home or on the go, these earmuffs provide protection against the loud noises of the world.  



Distinguishing Between ASD and SPD 

While both ASD and SPD involve sensory sensitivities, the key difference lies in the broader spectrum of symptoms associated with ASD, including social communication challenges, repetitive behaviours, and developmental delays. SPD, on the other hand, primarily focuses on sensory processing difficulties and does not encompass these additional features. It’s important to recognize that individuals can have both ASD and SPD, and addressing their unique needs and challenges is essential for their well-being. At the Sensory Store, we have a wide range of products for everyone’s sensory needs that can benefit individuals with ASD, SPD or both. 




1 – National Institute of Mental Health – ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’, 2023  

2 – Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Australia ‘What is SPD?’ 

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