As I am sure many of you have heard, Oprah Winfrey did a show last Friday about mental illness in children, and unfortunately led audiences to believe that Sensory Processing Disorder was a mental illness.
Here is the link to the article:
Many people are very upset, me included, as spreading acurate information about SPD in an effort raise awarness and offer support to parents and families is something I am VERY passionate about. Because of that, I felt compelled to write to Oprah and I wanted you all to know what I said.
Below is the letter:
Your recent show about the 7 year old boy with mental illness struck a chord with me.
I have a 9 year old with Bipolar Disorder, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, who just like the boy on your show, has demonstrated physically and verbally violent behaviors since he was a toddler. For that reason, I was happy to see the stigma and challenge of pediatric mental illness being discussed in such a high profile forum.
However, what is described in this episode was not given a diagnostic label other than Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD or Sensory Integration), and inferred that sensory issues were the only challenge this child has.
I have multiple problems with this. I am sure the intention of the episode was to bring awareness to mental illness, but instead you spread misinformation about Sensory Processing Disorder and undoubtedly confused a significant amount of people who now think SPD is a violent mental illness.
For clarification, SPD is a neurological disorder, NOT a mental illness. It affects all 8 senses and causes children to respond inappropriately to their environment. It is treated most successfully by occupational therapy with an at home sensory diet. SPD does not cause rages.
On the other hand, Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness characterized by a chemical and physical difference in the brain, and is treated with medication and often Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Bipolar Disorder does cause rages.
I write about Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism and Bipolar Disorder and am passionate about spreading awareness and offering support to parents.
I am asking you to revisit this subject before you are off the air. Please give a forum to parents and professionals that can help clarify what Sensory Processing Disorder and Bipolar Disorder are. If I can help you locate parents or professionals, I am positive I can arrange it any time.
Thank you for all you have done for parents over the years, your show will be missed!
A true Oprah fan,