Children with sensory integration problems may find everyday activities difficult, especially hair brushing, bathing, toothbrushing, dressing and even eating. Children with S.I. disorders may trouble with sounds, hearing, visual stimulation, speech, taste, smell, movement or knowing where their body is while still.
Behavioral reactions to uncomfortable situations may be exaggerated and intense, or a child may withdraw and refuse to participate. Some children may need calming activities, and others may need stimulation to help them participate more happily in the world. Many children go through periods of neurological immaturity when their bodies grow fast but their ability to process sensory information is not immediately well-integrated.
Families may suspect that a child with sensory integration difficulties has 'something going on' but it is like re-inventing the wheel discovering what will calm a child or encourage them to participate in activities that distress them. It can be a great relief when a medical or education professional who is aware of sensory processing disorder or sensory integration difficulties observes a child and alerts a family member about where to find help.
Children with S.I. troubles are often referred to pediatric occupational therapists, known as O.T.s or OTRs, who are trained and licensed professionals. Not all occupational therapists are trained in sensory integration techniques. School districts may employ COTAs, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants, who will follow the instructions of an OTR who has assessed a student and made recommendations.
Parents often learn helpful strategies to be used at home, out in the community, at family gatherings, in clubs and after school programs. It can be frustrating to persuade others that a child with sensory integration difficulties is unable to tolerate whatever shuts them down or overwhelms them.
Some children with sensory integration issues may need only small accommodations during their school day to avoid sensory overload or shutdown, to be able to focus on what is being taught, and deal with changes in routine when it happens. Some of the same activities may be useful for children who are having temporary S.I. difficulties as they grow up.
Browse at your local bookstore, public library or online booksellers to find more information or books about encouraging children with sensory issues, like Sensory Integration and the Child: 25th Anniversary Edition by A. Jean Ayres
Browse at your local bookstore, public library or online retailer for books about Sensory Processing Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder And Sensory Integration - A Closer Look
Washington Post Online Chat Archives Friday, Aug. 18, 2006: Understanding Your Child's Learning Style - interview with Dr. Brock Eide, M.D., and Dr. Fernette Eide, M.D., Founders of the Neurolearning Clinic
Events, Appearances and Presentations by Dr. Brock Eide, M.D., and Dr. Fernette Eide, M.D.
Older Children, Teens and Adults Benefit from Sensory Integration Therapy PDF
Disability Solutions - Special Issue Articles on Down Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorder