Sensory Integration is an individual’s ability to take in, and make use of multi-sensory inputs from environment, process them and integrate them into actions that are adaptive and able to support one’s ability to engage in meaningful activities. Everyone has sensory needs, and its our ability to seek, modulate and integrate these needs that separates us from individuals with Sensory Processing Disorders. In this blog post, I continue to to feature a free downloadable article (http://www.efrconline.org/admin/files/Parent%27sGuideToSI.pdf) which I find really interesting and helpful for parents, teachers and even therapists.
Signs of Sensory Integrative Dysfunction
Not all children with learning, developmental, or behavioral problems have an underlying sensory integrative disorder. There are certain indicators, however, that can signal a parent that such a disorder may be present. The following are a few of the possible signs:
Overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
This may be manifested in behaviors such as irritability or withdrawal when touched, avoidance of certain textures of clothes or foods, distractibility, or a fearful reaction to ordinary movement activities, such as those typically found on a playground.
Under-reactive to sensory stimulation
In contrast to the overly sensitive child, an under-responsive child may seek out intense sensory experiences such as body whirling or crashing into objects. He or she may seem oblivious to pain or to body position. Some children fluctuate between extremes of over- and underresponsiveness.
Activity level that is unusually high or low
The child may be constantly on the move or may be slow to activate and fatigue easily. Again, some children may fluctuate from one extreme to the other.
This can be seen in gross or fine motor activities. Some children may have unusually poor balance, while others have great difficulty learning to do a new task that requires motor coordination.
Delays in speech, language, motor skills, or academic achievement
These may be evident in a preschooler along with other signs of poor sensory integration. In a school-aged child, there may be problems in some academic areas despite normal intelligence.
Poor organization of behavior
The child may be impulsive or distractible and show a lack of planning in approach to tasks. Some children have difficulty adjusting to a new situation. Others may react with frustration, aggression, or withdrawal when they encounter failure.
Poor self concept
Sometimes a child who experiences the problems mentioned above just does not quite feel right. A bright child with these problems may know that some tasks are more difficult for him than for other children, but may not know why. This child may appear lazy, bored, or unmotivated. Some children soon figure out ways to avoid these tasks that are hard or embarrassing. When this happens, the child may be considered troublesome or stubborn. When a problem is difficult to see or understand, parents and children may blame themselves. Family tension, poor self concept, and a general feeling of hopelessness may prevail.
Typically, a child with a sensory integrative disorder will show more than one of the above signs.
Evaluation: The Next Step
If you suspect that your child fits this picture, an evaluation can be conducted by a qualified occupational or physical therapist. Results of the evaluation will indicate whether or not a sensory integrative disorder is present, and will provide you with a profile of your child’s sensory processing abilities in a number of areas.
Evaluation consists of both standardized testing and structured observations of responses to sensory stimulation, posture, balance, coordination, and eye movements. The occupational or physical therapist who conducts testing may also informally observe spontaneous play, and may ask you to provide information about your child’s development and typical behavior patterns. A thorough evaluation usually requires about 1 1/2 to 3 hours. Following the evaluation, you will receive a report that provides you with rest scores and with an interpretation of what the scores indicate.
For most young children, the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT), (or the earlier version, the Southern California Sensory Integration Test (SCSIT)) will be used in the evaluation.
These tests assess the child’s functioning in the following areas:
- Visual perception
- Somatosensory processing (touch and proprioception)
- Vestibular processing
- Eye-hand coordination
- Motor planning or praxis
If your child has special problems, or if he or she is not the appropriate age for these tests, other tests or assessment methods may be selected by the therapist. It is appropriate to ask a professional when and how he or she was trained in evaluation of sensory integration. If the SIPT or SCSIT is used in evaluation, the therapist should be certified in administration of that particular test. For a listing of certified therapists, you can contact Sensory Integration International at 1402 Cravens Avenue, Torrance, California 90501, telephone (213) 533-8388.
After carefully analyzing test results and other assessment date along with information from other professionals and parents, the therapist will make recommendations regarding the appropriateness of therapy using a sensory integrative approach. These recommendations are made on the basis of the degree and nature of sensory integrative involvement in the child as well as research that identifies which types of problems respond best to particular therapeutic approaches. For children with clear evidence of sensory integrative dysfunction, occupational or physical therapy using sensory integrative procedures may be recommended on a trial basis to determine whether or not the child is responsive to this therapeutic approach. For still other children, occupational or physical therapy may not be recommended, but referral to another professional may be made or suggestions about how to help the child may be provided to the parent or teacher.
The web offers a lot of information on sensory integrative dysfunction (which I have to tell you is a legit diagnosis these days). Should you wish to know more about the topic, go and google away. You may also wish to ask me directly, and I will try my best to answer to the best of my abilities.
Happy new year everyone!