What is Sensory Integration?
We all learn through our senses. Sensory processing is how we use the information we take in through our senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, sound, and movement) and turn it into messages we can act on. Our senses all work together to help us make sense of our world.
For most children sensory integration develops through play and ordinary childhood activities. But for some children sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When the brain consistently misreads sensory information a number of problems can result in learning, development, or behavior. Because sensory processing occurs at the level of the brain we can’t control how we respond. Our reactions cannot be reasoned, willed, or conditioned away. If left untreated sensory integration issues may prevent a person from fully experiencing success in their daily lives.
Signs of Sensory Integrative Dysfunction
- Has difficulty focusing
- Has trouble calming down
- Does not like hugs, being tickled, or cuddled
- Becomes overwhelmed or upset in crowded, noisy, or busy spaces
- Complains of certain fabric textures, socks, tags, or seams in clothing
- Has difficulty listening or following directions
- Uses too much or too little pressure with activities such as writing, closing doors, or playing
- Is a picky eater and avoids certain textures, flavors, or temperatures of foods
- Frequent irritability or episodes of agitation
- Bumps into others and objects often, maybe even without being aware
- Dislikes having hands or face dirty, messy, sticky OR seems unaware if they become dirty
- Is overly sensitive to noises or is easily distracted by noise
Does your child exhibit many of these characteristics? Take this Sensory Checklist to better understand your child’s unique sensory profile. If you find that you checked off many items that indicate your child’s sensory issues are consistently out of proportion, contact us to get an evaluation with an occupational therapist who is specially trained to assess and treat sensory processing issues.
Fortunately, if your child does have problems with sensory processing, there is a great deal that can be done to help him or her. Our knowledgeable OTs will enhance your child’s ability to process sensory input. The goal is to organize the brain in order to maximize your child’s potential to develop the greatest level of independence and success in their daily lives.