What is sensory integration disorder and what does it look like in real terms? Sensory integration disorder may affect all the senses, a couple of senses, or just one of them.
Most people like the scent of lemon. It smells fresh and clean. We like to flavor or tenderize our food with it. It smells wonderful in our cleaning products, and it keeps the garbage disposal from getting a foul smell. Lemons have a light fragrance that doesn’t overpower other things. For the child with sensory integration, smelling lemon may be like walking into a room where everyone put on too much cologne. The fragrance is so strong that the child needs to get away from it—fast!
Sensory integration disorder, also known as sensory integration dysfunction, is a condition where the brain has trouble processing information that comes in from the senses. Children are more often diagnosed with sensory integration disorder, but adults may have it too. Some children with autism may have sensory processing difficulty.
Kids with sensory integration disorders may be overly sensitive to touch. Some kids don’t like getting dressed because clothing itches and chafes them or the tag bothers them. Sensory processing issues make some kids not want to be hugged or touched.
Kids whose sensory integration issues affect their sense of sight may bump into things, be clumsy, or lack coordination. A sensory processing disorder may cause some children to have fine or gross motor delays. They may also be overly sensitive to lights or patterns.
Children that have sensory integration issues related to sound are intensely bothered by loud or soft sounds. They may also be affected by repeated sounds like a siren or birds chirping.
Signs of sensory processing that affects the sense of taste are being overly picky about eating, drooling or gagging, and speech and language delays.
There’s no cure for sensory integration disorder, but an occupational therapist (OT) can be very helpful in retraining the child’s senses so that sensory integration disorder is tolerable.