Friday, March 4, 2011

Here's our Letter to Oprah!

Dear Oprah,

I am writing about your show titled "The 7-Year-Old Who Tried to Kill his Mother.

I have a 7 year old with Sensory Processing Disorder with developmental coordination disorder, ADHD, and generalized anxiety disorder. I was happy to see the stigma and challenge of pediatric disorders and mental illness being discussed in such a high profile forum.

Zach has a variety of mental health disorders; however, the only diagnosis mentioned was “Sensory Integration Disorder,” also known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Your show inferred that sensory issues were the only challenge this child has. Because SPD was not explained on your show, nor was Zach’s mental health diagnoses, the audience was given the impression that children with a diagnosis of SPD may be inclined to rage attacks that could lead to attempts to kill others. This is not correct.

SPD is a neurological disorder, NOT a mental illness. SPD is a condition that exists when sensory signals are misinterpreted by the brain and inappropriate responses result. Most children with SPD do not have psychiatric disorders; however, children with severe psychiatric problems (like Zach on your program) may receive some treatment for comorbid (co-existing) SPD, but it is not the focus of their overall treatment plan.

Please revisit this subject and help clarify Sensory Processing Disorder before you are off the air.

Thank you for all you have done for parents over the years. Your show will be missed!

Domenica Mastromatteo

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects at least one in twenty children. Children with SPD don't process or experience sensory information the way other typical children do; therfore, they don't behave the way other children do. They struggle to perform tasks that come easier for other children. Consequently they suffer a loss of quality in their social, personal, emotional and academic life.

The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation is dedicated to continue their research into the knowledge and treatment of SPD, so that, as Lucy Jane Miller writes in her book "Sensations Kids", "the millions of sensational children currently "muddling through" daily life will enjoy the same hope and help that research and recognition already have bestowed on coutless other conditions that once baffled science and disrupted lives."