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Old 12-23-09, 11:22 AM
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Re: AH/HD and/or Sensory Integration Disorder

Originally Posted by Keppig View Post
Sensory Integration Disorder

One of the best ways to describe what a child with DSI may feel like is to picture yourself sitting in your room, while dinner is cooking in the oven downstairs. The air conditioner and TV are on, the shades are open, and you are reading a book. For many children and adults, this is not a big deal. For the child with sensory deprivation they may feel like the sunlight is blaring in their eyes, the TV is set on HIGH volume, the air conditioner is too loud and blowing in their face. The book they are trying to read is made of material that is irritating to touch, and the dinner cooking downstairs is distracting because the smell is bothersome, and the kitchen timer is ticking too loudly.
Knowing this, it should not be surprising that many children with DSI, unable to understand their sensory signals, may have multiple issues to contend with, including difficulty concentrating and negative behavioral consequences.

What kinds of signs does a child with Sensory Integration Disorder show?
A typical child with DSI will show one or more of the following signs:
1. Over or under sensitive to sound. Ie child may cover ears and pull away from most noises or crave a lot of multiple sound stimuli.
2. Overly sensitive or under sensitive to lights. Ie, child covers their eyes and may not be able to tolerate bright lights or flashing lights.
3. Under-reactive to sensory stimulation: Ie, child craves spinning, jumping, moving constantly -or- has difficulty with most movement stimuli.
4. Unusually high or low activity level; may seem hyperactive or hypoactive.
5. Coordination problems; may seem clumsy or careless.
6. Delays in speech, language, motor skills.
7. Below par academic performance.
8. Poor organization of behavior (impulsive, distractible, frustrated, aggressive)
9. May seem lazy, bored, or unmotivated:
10. Difficulty making transitions. Child has difficulty with routine changes, difficulties with season changes ( Ie, going from shorts to pants and visa versa)
11. Social and/or emotional problems. I.e., acts out, has frequent temper tantrums, or seems oppositional and defiant.

Are there certain children that are more prone to sensory integration disorders than others?
Although sensory disorders can be present in any child, studies indicate that approximately 70% of children with learning disabilities have sensory issues. Children with pervasive developmental disorders, such as autism, children born prematurely or who have had head trauma, ADHD, and children with anxiety disorders are also more prone to sensory issues.

What are the most common Sensory integration problems?
A child's reaction to touch and their response to movement are the most common problems that we see.
For example, children with abnormal touch sensation, may be over-responsive to touch or under-responsive to touch sensations. Children, who are overly sensitive, often have difficulty with certain fabrics and refuse to wear certain clothes or sleep on certain sheets. Tags on the back of clothes may annoy them or certain socks are preferred over others. Very often children do not like buttoned pants, because of the sensation on their waists. Many of these children do not like a lot of close touch. They may pull away from physical contact such as hugging and being touched.
Children that are under-responsive to touch sensation often crave physical touch. These children tend to seem as if they are always in need of physical contact. These children tend to disregard the need for 'personal space, ' and always seem to be touching or doing things with their hands or body.
If children have abnormal movement sensation, they may be over-responsive to movement and have difficulty with car rides, playground equipment, and seem to avoid physical activity or being lifted up. If they are under-responsive to movement, they may crave physical sensations, such as running, jumping, climbing, and swinging. These kids often love rollercoster rides at an early age!

My child tends to cover his ears and eyes when in a crowd of people. Should I be concerned?
Actually, this is very common among all young children. Crowds of people are noisy and there is a lot going on. My recommendation is to pay close attention to other behaviors. I.e., does the TV or radio tend to cause the same symptoms; does the child have difficulty in most group situations, even small groups? Does the child react to most sounds and sights in this way?
If this were an isolated situation, that tends to overwhelm your child, then I would give it time and see how your child develops. Chances are, as he gets older, he will adjust to crowds better; although there are plenty of people who have difficulties with crowds, even as adults!
What should parents do if they suspect a child has DSI symptoms?
Take note of the behaviors you are concerned about. I recommend keeping a journal in order to keep track of your thoughts and concerns. Speak to your child's teacher about your concerns. Advise the teacher to be on the lookout for certain behaviors, and to keep in touch with you about this.
Make an appointment to speak with your child's doctor as well. If your doctor is also concerned he/she will often recommend an evaluation by a pediatric occupational therapist.

How does an occupational therapist (OT) evaluate my child and how is DSI treated?
An OT that specializes in sensory integration (only about 20% of OT's) will do a structured examination of the child's responses to various sensory stimulation, checking for balance, fine and gross motor skills, coordination, eye movements. Other tests may be done as well, such as developmental testing, to be sure the child is developmentally up to par may be necessary.
Based on the deficits found, activities will be done with the child to help the child react properly to sensory stimulation. Focus is on adaptive measures to help the child function more appropriately and feel more comfortable with the world around them. Most activities are fun to the children and most actually look forward to going for therapy!

What can I do to help my child with sensory integration disorder?
Most importantly, accept your child's deficiencies and try to learn as much as you can about DSI. Your child's doctor's office, and your OT can often supply you with information.
Children tend to feel less stressed when parents are accepting and comforting when they are feeling 'out of control' or uncomfortable. Respecting your child's needs and preferences with regards to their sensory deprivation is often comforting to your child.
In addition, the OT that is working with your child can provide you with an array of activities you can do with your child at home or as an after school activity.
I've not read the whole thread- but are we just looking at 2 ways of describing the same problem? It is just a thought.

Whenever you see a crowd all rushing in the same direction on any one issue, run in the opposite direction.

There is neither fun nor profit to be had in polishing the brass knobs on a bandwagon.
Nicholas Nasseem Taleb.

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