Sensory Integration

The Out-of-Sync Child

Sensory Integration Dysfunction

  • Central nervous system ineffective in processing sensory information, children with this hidden difficulty have a hard time functioning in daily life
  • Mistake child’s behavior, low self-esteem, or reluctance to participate in ordinary childhood experiences for hyperactivity, learning disabilities, or emotional problems
  • Preschoolers, whose nervous systems are still developing rapidly, stand a good chance to benefit from therapeutic intervention
  • Child with SI dysfunction may have difficulty “reading cues,” verbal or nonverbal, from the environment
  • Child may read a behavior (cues), but is unable to stop any given activity
  • May not demonstrate consistent difficulties, but have “off” days
  • Sensory Processing Problems-some children are primarily oversensitive, undersensitive, and some are oversensitive to some sensations and undersensitive to others
    • One or more of following symptoms with frequency, intensity, and duration (May be over or under sensitive to the following stimuli)
      • Oversensitive child seeks less stimulation: avoid being touched by objects or people – may react with fight-or-flight response to getting dirty, to certain textures of clothing or food, and to unexpected light touch from another individual
      • Avoids movement
      • May be rigid, tense, stiff, and uncoordinated
      • Sights – May become overexcited when there is too much to look at
      • Sounds – cover ears to close out voices or sounds; may complain about noises or may not listen to sounds at all, such as verbal directions
      • Smells – May avoid or may not notice odors
      • Tastes – May object to certain temperatures or tastes of foods or may lick food that are not edible or may very much enjoy spice
  • Behavior Problems – pertains to issues that can result from inefficient sensory processing, but can also result from other developmental problems
    • May have unusually high or low activity levels
    • Impulsivity, distractibility, problems with muscle tone and motor coordination, problems with motor planning (conceive of, organize, sequence, and carry out complex movements), lack of definite hand preference by age of 4/5, poor hand-eye coordination, resistance to novel situations, difficulty with transitions, high level of frustration, self-regulation problems ( may get revved up and is not able to come back down), academic problems, social and emotional problems

Habituation – When one sensation becomes so familiar, our brain automatically tunes it out

Facilitatory messages – those that are new to us or our uncomfortable, meaningful messages

Four Levels of Sensory integration:

  1. Primary Sensory Systems (2 months) – tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive sense
  2. Perceptual Motor Foundation (1 year) – Body awareness, bilateral coordination, lateralization, motor planning
  3. Perceptual Motor Skills (3 years) – Auditory, visual perception, eye-hand coordination, visual-motor integration, purposeful activity
  4. Academic readiness (6 years) – Academic, complex motor skills, regulation of attentions, organized behavior, specialization of body and brain, visualization, self-esteem and self control