Sensory Integration Disorder in Kids – A parental journey

Isa Jones ByIsa Jones

Sensory Integration Disorder in Kids – A parental journey

As an infant, Mia displayed a profound fear of swings, a memory her father, Benjamin Rivers, recalls vividly.

Indeed, Mia exhibited apprehension towards toys that moved, swayed, or spun. On the rare occasions she attempted to engage with such toys, she would cry out until comforted. With each passing day, Mia’s steps grew increasingly tentative, often seeking stability from nearby objects.

“A simple curb felt like a towering cliff,” reminisces her father. Even as a toddler, Mia harbored an aversion to sand. At the beach, she steadfastly refused to walk on it, despite her yearning to approach the ocean.

Upon entering preschool, Mia’s anxiety escalated into full-blown attacks and tried  to alleviate them by vigorously moving her arms and feet.

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Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) Can Manifest Alongside Other Conditions

Mia is just one among many children diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), a concept pioneered in the 1970s.

The research primarily focused on sensory processing and motor planning difficulties in children with intellectual disabilities. This led to the groundwork for the sensory integration theory, which informs various occupational and physical therapy interventions utilized with children diagnosed with conditions such as autism, Asperger’s, developmental coordination disorder, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and others.

Signs of Sensory Integration Disorder may include

  • Heightened sensitivity or under-reaction to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
  • Easily distracted
  • Social and/or emotional challenges
  • Unusually high or low activity levels
  • Physical clumsiness or apparent lack of awareness
  • Impulsiveness or difficulty with self-control
  • Challenges transitioning between activities
  • Difficulty self-soothing or calming down
  • Speech, language, or motor skill delays
  • Academic delays

If a child exhibits several of these symptoms, experts advise consulting the child’s pediatrician and/or educators to facilitate an evaluation by an occupational or physical therapist specializing in Sensory Integration Disorder. The evaluation typically involves standardized testing and observations of responses to sensory stimuli, posture, balance, coordination, and eye movements.

For most individuals, sensory integration occurs seamlessly. However, children with Sensory Integration Disorder may struggle to make these connections. They may also exhibit heightened sensitivity to external stimuli or appear overwhelmed in highly stimulating environments.

While we all have sensitivities, typically, they do not impede our daily functioning. However, children with SID, who experience heightened sensitivities, may live in constant apprehension, anticipating unexpected events such as sudden vacuum cleaner activation or doorbell ringing.

However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, some children with SID may seem oblivious to sensory input. They may not respond to their name being called, fail to perceive imminent dangers, or exhibit a lack of response to painful stimuli.

Occupational Therapy: A Standard Approach

Treatment for SID often involves occupational therapy, focusing on providing the child with diverse sensory experiences to aid in their adjustment, explains occupational therapist Natalie Campbell. Therapy sessions may start with basic activities such as rolling on the floor, gradually progressing to more complex exercises involving therapy balls and swings, especially for children with balance difficulties.

“By exposing a child with SID to various sensory experiences, they can learn to understand and adapt to them,” Campbell states. “It’s all about finding a balance between sensory input and integration.”

Therapy sessions for SID often resemble play therapy, notes Sarah Evans, clinical supervisor of occupational therapy. Over three to six months, occupational therapists work with the child to elicit “adaptive responses,” such as making eye contact or engaging in sensory activities.

According to Evans, who is also SIPT-certified, the effectiveness of occupational therapy for SID is enhanced when reinforced at school and at home.

“While children with sensory integration disorder may always face challenges,” Evans concludes, “therapy equips them with strategies to navigate them.”

In conclusion, Mia’s journey serves as a testament to this. Although her challenges persist, but with the aid of occupational therapy, vision and listening therapy, counseling, and unwavering familial support, Mia’s father reflects on the significant progress she has made.

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Sensory Integration Disorder in Kids – A parental journey
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Sensory Integration Disorder in Kids – A parental journey
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An insightful article showcasing how therapy equips children to overcome challenges of Sensory Integration Disorder
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Times of Autism
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Isa Jones

Isa Jones

Hi, my name is Isa Jones and I am a journalist with Autism Times. I am passionate towards autism advocacy and love to be associated with the wonderful team. If you have any great piece of content to be shared or interesting story to be covered feel free to email me.

About the author

Isa Jones

Isa Jones author

Hi, my name is Isa Jones and I am a journalist with Autism Times.

I am passionate towards autism advocacy and love to be associated with the wonderful team.

If you have any great piece of content to be shared or interesting story to be covered feel free to email me.

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