The number of children presenting with Sensory Integration Difficulties is increasing significantly. It is important that these difficulties are identified early and dealt with timeously as they have a large impact on a child’s functioning in the classroom, at home and in social settings.
Common signs to look out for that would indicate there may be Sensory Integration Difficulties:
- Sensitivity to touch – avoiding any of the following or extreme reactions to them: certain textures of clothes; certain textures of food (and gagging/throwing up when given those textures); hair-cuts and/or brushing; nail-cutting; having their hands messy i.e. avoiding any messy play e.g. playdough, sand play, finger painting etc.
- Sensitivity to noise– avoiding loud noises and covering their ears e.g. noises like alarms; hair-dryers; hand-dryers; vacuum cleaners; high-pitched screaming or shouting.
- Sensitivity to certain food flavours/smells – they will only eat foods that are very bland in flavour e.g. fish fingers; chips; pasta without sauce; dry toast etc.
- Sensitivity to movement – they become car sick easily; can’t tolerate backwards movement or being upside down; have a fear of their feet leaving the ground.
- Sensitivity to visual stimuli – avoidance of the following: eye-contact; watching a moving object e.g. a ball; bright lights or flickering lights.
- Seeking out of sensations e.g. swinging/ rocking/ hopping in excess of what would be considered normal; teeth grinding; chewing on objects.
- Difficulties with self-regulation: seen in challenges with sleep; coping with changes in routine; coping with new, unfamiliar environments or unexpected events.
- Difficulties with praxis (motor planning): difficulty learning new skills; poor ability to imitate others; poor problem solving skills.
Written by Tamaryn Hunter – BSc. (Occupational Therapy – Occupational Therapist)