Symptom Tests for Adults

[Self-Test] Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in Adults

Your aversion to itchy fabrics, scented candles, and crowds could be a sign of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Take this test to better understand daily SPD symptoms, and bring the results to an occupational therapist trained in sensory integration and ADHD.

Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Test for Adults

What causes sensory overload? If you find itchy tags unbearable, loud music intolerable, and perfume simply sickening, you may have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) — a condition that disrupts the way the brain takes in, organizes, and uses the messages received through the eyes, ears, muscles, joints, skin and inner ears. SPD may cause sensory overload, but it may also cause you to crave sensory stimulation through deep-tissue massages, winding motorcycle rides, or skydiving adventures. The manifestations of SPD are varied — and sometimes contradictory — making diagnosis difficult.

If you avoid hugs, hate flossing your teeth, just can’t tolerate scented candles, have always felt clumsy, or can't get dressed without a mirror, take this self-test to better understand the daily manifestations of SPD symptoms in adults. Then share the results with an occupational therapist or a medical professional who is knowledgeable about SPD for an evaluation.

Adapted from the SPD Foundation’s Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist designed to to screen the possibility of sensory processing disorder. Note: This is not a diagnostic tool. If you have concerns about possible Sensory Processing Disorder see a mental health professional. An accurate diagnosis can only be made through clinical evaluation. Screener for personal use only.

Flickering lights — or even worse, strobe lights — send me over the edge. I’m instantly nauseous.

1 out of 16

I find myself bumping into things a lot, knocking stuff over, and tripping over my own feet.

2 out of 16

When everyone else is sweating or shivering, I’m usually somewhere in the middle.

3 out of 16

I wear anything that’s loose and flowy, like caftans.

4 out of 16

I avoid walking through the perfume department at all costs. Scented candles — even the most subtle ones — bother me.

5 out of 16

I avoid public speaking. The bright spotlight, the possibility of falling off the stage, and the squawking mic make me very anxious.

6 out of 16

Hugs even from those I'm close to can make me feel uncomfortable.

7 out of 16

Daily activities can be hard to do if I'm not able to see what I'm doing. I can’t get dressed or brush my teeth without looking in a mirror. I can’t find the seat belt in my car without twisting to see it. When I type on the keyboard, I have to look at what my fingers are doing.

8 out of 16

When I’m in a car with other people, I’m always asking, “Can we turn down the radio volume?”

9 out of 16

Being in a crowded elevator makes me want to break out and run.

10 out of 16

I prefer to wear tagless shirts and seamless socks. I cut the tags out of my clothes and would rather go naked than wear wool.

11 out of 16

I avoid some foods because of the texture. I would rather go hungry than eat a mushy banana.

12 out of 16

The sound of a dripping faucet or a crack of sunlight coming in from around my shades wakes me out of the deepest sleep.

13 out of 16

I enjoy high-adrenaline activities. There’s nothing more thrilling than riding in the first car of a rollercoaster, except maybe riding my road bike at top speed and zip-lining from tree tops.

14 out of 16

My handwriting is illegible. I'm told I have "difficult-to-read" penmanship.

15 out of 16

The thought of having to walk through the sand to get to the ocean or a lake can ruin the fun of a swim.

16 out of 16

(Optional) Would you like to receive your sensory processing disorder symptom test results — plus more helpful resources — via email from ADDitude?


Can’t see the self-test questions above? Click here to open this test in a new window.


Sensory Processing Disorder: Next Steps

1. Take This Test: Emotional Hyperarousal in Adults with ADHD
2. Read Hypersensitivity Is Not Imagined
3. Read 3 Defining Features of ADHD That Everyone Overlooks
4. Read What is Sensory Processing Sensitivity?
5. Take This Test: Executive Function Disorder in Adults
6. Download Are Your Senses in Overdrive?
7. Find an ADHD or SPD specialist nearby in our ADDitude Directory
8. Research Treatments for Sensory Processing Disorder

32 Comments & Reviews

  1. I just want to caution people that this self-test is oddly specific in its choices for describing sensory processing issues, and is therefore quite limited in actual usefulness as an indicator. SPD doesn’t have to manifest like this at all in order to legitimately exist.

    Therefore, I encourage anyone who suspects that they have sensory processing issues to take their results here with a large grain of salt, and keep on learning/seeking professional input about spd regardless results if your experiences are telling you something may be up.

    1. Thanks, Rosie! Since the test said not to take it to heart and so did you, I’m definitely not going to feel affected by this one multi-choice questionnaire. I’m searching for an ADHD specialist to get this all sorted out.

    2. I agree, some of the questions were way too specific, which caused me to choose an answer that disagreed with a part of the question that i agreed with, if that makes any sense.

    3. Thank you! I made an account to say this and then realized you already had haha. I also found the questions too specific, and kind of invalidating. For instance, I need TIGHT clothes, because clothes “flowing around” gives me anxiety. I also LOVE the way sand feels, I can’t imagine not liking it, but my own hairs touching my shoulders makes me want to scream.

  2. If anyone has a diversion to sand, google “sand socks”. Think a sock version of water shoes. They are actually used by sand volleyball players to protect their feet from hot sand, but I used them to keep the sand off my feet and was actually able to enjoy a beach vacation.

  3. I cannot focus on what anyone’s saying if water is running and if someone talks to me or near me when I’m on the phone i flip out . Radio static drives me up the wall and i have to stop it immediately. I hear every Single sound in the air and environment over the sound of the voice of whoever im talking to. Mental exhaustion for sure

  4. I was diagnosed with SPD as a child I think. It has gotten worst in my teen and young adult years. I struggle so much. Also SPD can be a diagnosis on its own, or it can be a symptom of Autism and/or ADHD. Living life as an adult woman with ADHD, SPD and a rare genetic disease that causes social/emotional, mental, learning, physical and developmental disabilities is SO CHALLENGING!!! I feel like there is not enough support, advocacy and resources! For example, I’ve been trying to go sweater shopping for the past 2 weeks, but my sensory problems and anxiety stops me every time. I procrastinate another day. I need someone to go with me, to get the job done!

  5. While I only scored 13% here, it isn’t exactly a thorough quiz, and made me reflect about all the little things that can paralyze me. For example–Caftans (I had to google what that was) would make me incredibly anxious, because I find the wind on my skin very distracting. I’m fine with sand on my feet, but can’t stand mud or dirt on my hands OR the restriction of gloves on my hands, much to my gardening monther’s consternation….I could keep going on and on.

  6. SBD is also known as Irlen Syndrome. Irlen Syndrome is hereditary and I only just found out that I have it because we went to a doctor that knew to test her for that while she was being tested for ADHD. And she and I have both Irlen Syndrome and ADHD Inattentive Type. I was able to afford the Irlen lenses for her (expensive and insurance doesn’t cover or recognize it even though it’s the same as SBD) and I am saving for mine because after seeing the Irlen Syndrome doc to be tested and find the color spectrum lenses I needed (because Irlen Syndrome affects each person that has it differently)…I could not believe the difference. My daughter was in third grade when she was diagnosed and is in 5th grade now and the difference is amazing.

  7. These questions are VERY specific? NeuroD folk tend to be very literal, when it says flickering lights make you nauseated, do you mean literally? Or figuratively? What if they are intolerable (shut eyes & leave) but not nauseating?

    I am instantly enraged by “unauthorised” sound. Tonight my boyf was singing quietly and I just snapped because he walked out and I was trying to concentrate. It is my only real anger trigger. I have a 50pk of earplugs but it’s not convenient for me to have them in constantly. I feel like a terrible person.

  8. I agree this test is not a good one for SPD. It needs to be removed or changed. I scored low on it but am extremely sensitive to noises, touch, lighting, and smells. I don’t see the correlation of being clumsy, being in between freezing and shivering or messy handwriting.

  9. OKAY I CANT ANSWER THIS TEST!!!! OMG Half the question is TOTALLY NO and the other half TOTALLY YES.

    There is a huge difference between biking at top speed down streets (routine) and ziplining (fear of heights) FFS youd think this was obvious…Yes I cant type or put on a seatbelt without looking obsessively, but no issues getting ready without a mirror besides for makeup…

    So how do I answer these questions?????

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