Sensory Processing Disorder And Sensory Integration Issues
Sensory processing or sensory integration (SI) , as defined by the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation as “a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.””
When a child has a sensory processing disorder, this means that they have sensory signals that don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Dr. Jean Ayres, Occupational Therapist, likened sensory processing disorder in toddlers and children to a “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly.
Some indicators of sensory challenges are listed below. The list is not exhaustive and does not necessarily mean your child has a sensory processing disorder, but often are indicators used to help guide parents, therapist and physician with treatment options.
- Child may seem to be in constant motion, unable to sit still for an activity
- Has trouble focusing or concentrating, can’t stay on task
- Seems to be always running, jumping, stomping rather than walking
- Bumps into things or frequently knocks things over
- Reacts strongly to being bumped or touched
- Avoids messy play and doesn’t like to get hands dirty
- Hates having hair washed, brushed or cut.
- Resists wearing new clothing and is bothered by tags or socks
- Distressed by loud or sudden sounds such as a siren or a vacuum
- Hesitates to play or climb on playground equipment
- Difficulties with balance
- Difficulty with eyes tracking objects and often loses place when reading or copying from board
- Fussy eater, often gags on food
- Reacts to smells not noticed by others
- Often lethargic or low arousal (appears to be tired/slow to respond, all the time, even after a nap
- Afraid of swinging/movement activities; does not like to be picked up or be upside down
- Having a hard time calming themselves down appropriately, difficult to settle and hard to put to sleep
There are many different types of sensory processing disorder treatment that may help your child if they display some of these indicators. Speak with your physician or a qualified therapist.
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Lauren is a registered occupational therapist working in Toronto. She has worked and trained in a variety of community, school and hospital settings, She has an interest in working with children and adults on motor development, co-ordination, fine and gross motor skills and adaptations for play, self-care and productivity.