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Sensory Integration Disorder

The Symptoms

The following is a checklist of possible signs that a child may have Sensory Integration Disorder.
It is by no means inclusive. The purpose of this list is to provide a brief overview of some of the behaviors most commonly associated with sensory integration problems. Keep in mind that some of the behaviors listed below, by themselves, do not necessarily point to a diagnosis of Sensory
Integration Disorder. Not every learning disability has an underlying sensory disorder. On the other hand, just because a child has already been diagnosed with a learning disability does not mean that this same child does not also have sensory integration issues. While sensory integration problems manifest themselves somewhat differently in each child, the following symptoms may indicate that this disorder is present:

                           1. Overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights or sounds

                           2. Under-reactive to sensory stimulation
                           3. Activity level that is unusually high or unusually low
                           4. Coordination problems
                           5. Delays in speech or language skills
                           6. Delays in motor skills or academic achievement
                           7. Poor organization of behavior
                           8. A poor self-concept

What are the main characteristics of a child with a Sensory Integration Disorder? What red flags should parents be aware of that might indicate that their child, or a child they know, may have a sensory integration problem?

      1.  Overly sensitive to touch, movement sights or sounds.
           These symptoms can be seen in behaviors such as irritability or withdrawal
           when touched, strict avoidance of certain clothing or foods solely on the basis
           of texture, and a fearful reaction to ordinary activities such as bathing or brushing

    2.  Under-reactive to sensory stimulation.
         A child who is under-reactive to sensory stimulation will usually seek out sensory          
         experiences.  For example, a child with an under-responsive tactile sense may
         constantly have his hands all over you. This child might also seem oblivious to pain.
         Some children even fluctuate between being under-responsive and being over -

     3.  Activity level that is unusually high or unusually low.
         This behavior can be seen in the child who is constantly on the move and appears
         to be "all over the place" or, in the child who fatigues easily and is difficult to motivate.
         Again, a child can fluctuate between the two extremes.

     4. Coordination problems.

These problems can be seen in either a child's gross or fine motor activities, or both.
         In addition, some children will have exceptionally poor balance and experience great
         difficulty learning to do something that involves motor planning.

     5.  Delays in speech or language skills.

Because speech and language problems are more obvious, they are often the first
         about a child's development to be addressed. It is not uncommon for the parents of
         a child with  Sensory Integration Disorder to have their child initially evaluated for
         a possible speech delay, only to learn that the child is having difficulty in other areas
         as well.

    6.  Delays in motor skills or academic achievement.

      Since most schools shy away from any formal measure of academic achievement at
        the elementary level,  these symptoms are usually seen when a child participates in
        projects where scissors, paint brushes or markers are used.  If a pre-school has an
        indoor or outdoor play  area, delays may also show up when the child uses  the 
        playground equipment. In an older child, there are usually problems with academic
        achievement despite the child testing within the range of  normal intelligence.

    7. Poor organization of behavior.
   The child may be highly distractible, especially in a group setting, and might be
       described as "all over the place." In addition, the child may show a lack of planning
       and therefore appear extremely impulsive. A child may have trouble adjusting to new
       situations or react  to failure with frustration, aggression or withdrawal.

    8. Poor self-concept
        Because of the complex nature of Sensory Integration Disorder, a child does not
        only  feel "out of sorts," the child can, and usually does, feel downright awful.
        As  A. Jean Ayres wrote in her book Sensory Integration and the Child , there are
        three things that contribute to this negative self-image:  "the  way  in  which the
       nervous  system is functioning, the feelings of
frustration and inadequacy that arise
       when a child cannot do things well, and other people's negative reactions to what
       the child does.", Most children with sensory integration problems are well aware
       that some tasks are more difficult for them than they are for other children, they just
understand why.

     A. Jean Ayres, Sensory Integration and the Child, p. 161




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