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Sensory Integration

“Sensory Integration is the neurological process that organises sensation… and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment.”
(Ayres, 1972)

Our senses give us information about the physical conditions of our body, the environment around us and our interaction with the environment.

For most people, sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities however for some, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. This is known as sensory integration dysfunction or sensory processing disorder.

Sensory integration difficulties can influence self-regulation, attention and arousal levels, the development of gross and fine motor skills and movement, learning and social interaction with others.

Sensory integration difficulties can occur in isolation. However, more frequently they occur in combination with other diagnoses – including Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit, Learning Disabilities, Developmental Coordination Disorder and Dyspraxia.

What do Sensory Integration Difficulties look like?

All children are different and how they present and the difficulties they experience will vary depending upon many factors. Children with sensory integration difficulties may:

  • Struggle with attention
  • Be fidgety
  • Be clumsy and un-coordinated
  • Be late to reach their motor milestones
  • Be always on the go and fearless/excessive risk taker
  • Be very fearful of physical play
  • Hate and avoid, or love and seek out being touched
  • Be a picky eater or have difficulties with certain food textures, etc.
  • Have either a floppy or a stiff body
  • Cover ears to loud noises such as hand-dryers, the vacuum cleaner etc.
  • Get upset by dirty hands and face
  • Get upset by hair/nail cutting and teeth brushing
  • Struggle to calm themselves
  • Get easily overwhelmed
  • Not register pain, or may find things painful that typically shouldn’t hurt
  • Be uncomfortable in clothing; hates tags, labels and certain textures