Sensory processing disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder, SPD

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a term used to classify individuals who have trouble receiving, interpreting, and responding to various sensory stimuli, including tactile, auditory, visual, vestibular, proprioception, interoception, taste, and smell.

The exact cause of Sensory Processing Disorder has not yet been identified although there are a few theories. SPD may be inherited, prenatal and birth complications may also play a causal role along with certain environmental factors.

Sensory processing difficulties can influence other areas in our lives including emotional regulation, behavior, social interactions, self-awareness, academics, career, relationships, and activities of daily living tasks. In addition, motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other conditions may result if the disorder is not effectively treated.

Is there an ICD-10 code for Sensory Processing Disorder?

Currently, there is not an ICD-10 code for Sensory Processing Disorder as there is not a true diagnostic criterion for SPD within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th edition (DSM-V).

However, clinicians will utilize various ICD-10 codes for individuals who exhibit signs and symptoms of sensory processing disorder, one which includes F84.9.

“This code falls under the broader category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Pervasive Developmental Disorders encompass a group of neurological conditions that affect communication, social interaction, and behavior.”

Another code that can be utilized is F88, which includes other disorders of psychological development which include “mental, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental disorders,” which involve sensory integration issues.

Furthermore, sensory processing disorder may be associated with other diagnoses such as ADHD and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).

Clear, concise, and accurate documentation specifically including the use of ICD-10 codes is important for therapists to provide and facilitate effective treatment. It also allows for appropriate billing and reimbursement for the therapist or facility.

In addition, it provides data specifically on the prevalence of SPD in geographic locations, populations, and contributes to future developments such as research and evidenced-based practice.

Occupational therapy assessment and intervention for Sensory Processing Disorder

While there is not a true diagnosis for sensory processing disorders, there are assessment methods and tools that occupational therapists can utilize to evaluate sensory-based challenges. These challenges may include sensory sensitivity, sensory avoidance, sensory-seeking over-responsiveness, under-responsiveness, low registration, motor planning, and/or other sensory differences.

Occupational therapists utilize various sensory assessments and clinical observations to evaluate sensory processing patterns across all age groups including pediatrics, adults, adolescents. Some common assessments include the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM), Sensory Profile (SP), and Adult/Adolescent Sensory History (AASH).

Providing sensory integration therapy is a fundamental area of occupational therapy. Intervention strategies may focus on specialized programs tailoring specific sensory areas including auditory, oral, proprioception, tactile, and vestibular.

Intervention methods may include the following:
  • Auditory: Auditory-based interventions are tailored to improve auditory processing skills, improve tolerance to noise, and overall exposure. Activities include auditory desensitization, sound discrimination, auditory processing activities focused on sequencing and memory, and auditory integration activities such as listening programs such as iLS or therapeutic listening.

  • Vestibular: Vestibular sensory intervention methods involve movement related activities and balance. Activities include swinging, balance challenges, spinning, and rocking in order to improve motor planning, balance and coordination.

  • Proprioception: Proprioceptive intervention methods refers to body awareness and input that is received by the muscle and joints. Proprioceptive input involves activities that require pushing, pulling, squeezing, jumping, or carrying heavy objects which improve body awareness, self-regulation, and motor planning.

  • Tactile: Tactile input can include deep pressure touch which calms and organizes the nervous system and tactile stimulation which involves exploring different textures.

  • Taste/Oral: Oral input-based interventions are designed to address issues related with picky eating, sensitivity, and oral-motor skills. Activities may involve gradual desensitization and slow introduction to new foods, textures, and smells. It may also involve multi-sensory exposure and experiences, food chaining, oral-motor exercises and exploration, and positive mealtime environments.

  • Vision: Visual sensory intervention strategies are focused primarily on environmental modifications, visual schedules, timers, and checklists. It can also incorporate visual tracking and eye-hand coordination activities such as throwing and catching a ball.

Start 30-day Free Trial and explore TheraPlatform. HIPAA Compliant Video and Practice Management Software for Therapists.

Environmental modifications and tools are also key techniques in sensory integration therapy.
  • Physical space: Creating a physical space for optimal functioning is important for providing individualized sensory integration therapy. Sensory friendly spaces focus on controlling the environment by providing adjustable lighting, minimizing sound, smells, temperature, incorporating tools that allow for self-calming, and free from hazards and harm.

  • Regulation tools: Calming and self-regulation tools may include fidget tools, external supports such as visual schedules, timers, headphones, or a weighted vest, blanket, or lap pad. In addition to individualized treatment, a sensory diet may also be prescribed.

  • Sensory diet: A sensory diet is a comprehensive list of activities and experiences that is tailored to each individual’s sensory preferences and profile that provides them with sensory input for optimal functioning. The goal of a sensory diet is to meet the sensory needs of individuals throughout the day by providing them with a list and schedule of activities which may target a few or all sensory systems, sensory breaks, and providing them with control and choice of activities.

  • Caregiver collaboration: Collaboration with individuals and caregivers is key for optimal success for planning and implementing a sensory diet. Furthermore, providing education is also significantly important for clients to understand SPD, their sensory triggers, sensory profile, and to develop and recognize coping strategies.

Overall, sensory processing disorder currently is not classified as a diagnosis under the DSM-V, however it is commonly understood in a broader framework of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and Autism spectrum disorders.

Occupational therapy is a primary method of treatment for individuals with SPD. It is vital that therapists use appropriate ICD-10 codes to acknowledge sensory processing differences in clients as it contributes to data collection, treatment, plans of care, evidenced-based practice, research, and contributes to refining diagnostic criteria in the future.


TheraPlatform, an all-in-one EHR, practice management and teletherapy tool was built for therapists to help them save time on admin tasks. Sign up for a free, 30-day trial with no credit card required. Cancel anytime.

  1. 2024 ICD-10-CM diagnosis code F88: Other disorders of psychological.
  2. About Us. Sensory Processing - STAR Institute.
  3. Nurbo, R. (2023, July 27). About sensory processing disorder. SPD Foundation.
  4. What is the sensory processing disorder ICD-10 code?. Above & Beyond ABA Therapy.,The%20ICD%2D10%20code%20F84.,aspects%20of%20sensory%20processing%20difficulties
More resources
Free video classes

Practice Management, EHR/EMR and Teletherapy Platform

Exclusive therapy apps and games

Start 30 Day FREE TRIAL
sensory processing measure, SPM-2
The New Sensory Processing Measure 2 (SPM-2)

The Sensory Processing Measure, Second Edition (SPM-2) is assessment that measures sensory processing. Find out what’s new with this popular test.

DAYC-2, Developmental Assessment of Young Children-2

The DAYC-2 is a reliable assessment tool that special educators and occupational therapists commonly use. See the domains that are assessed with the DAYC-2.

Subscribe to our newsletter