Thursday, August 26, 2010

Have you ever been in a crowded place and suddenly you feel you just can't take it anymore? Have you had to wear clothes that are too tight, too scratchy or uncomfortable? How about having to endure an outing somewhere that has a terrible smell? Have you switched off your car radio because the song that's playing feels like noise in your brain?
What if you couldn't get relief from these things? How long do you think you would be able to hold it together? How long do you think a child would be able to hold it together?
It's common to mistake sensory challenges for bad behavior. But how do you know the difference? Is a child behaving poorly or overwhelmed with sensory stimuli?
When people read this list, they typically say "Hey, I have that too." But usually they don't. We ALL have sensory preferences. But that does NOT qualify as Sensory Integration Disorder. The sensory challenges need to be severe enough to impede a child's ability to function in everyday life.
The following is a checklist of some common symptoms of sensory integration disorder. If your child exhibits many of these symptoms to a large degree, it's a great idea to contact a good Occupational Therapist who will create a sensory diet for your child.
Hypersensitivity (Tactile Defensiveness)
Does not like to be held or cuddled
Does not like to be touched lightly
Hates having hair brushed
Overreacts to small cuts or scrapes
Avoids touching certain textures
Prefers loose clothing and resists jeans, collars, seams in socks etc.
Aversive to messy play such as glue and finger painting
Doesn't like cutting nails or brushing teeth
Likes to walk on toes or barefoot
Hyposensitivity (Not Responsive Enough)
Craves touch and touches everything and everyone
Mouths inedible objects
Unaware of strength and might hurt children or pets while playing
Shows no distress if cut or bruised
Loves messy play and doesn't mind being dirty
Prefers spicy, sweet or sour foods to bland food
Poor tactile Perception
Has difficulty doing crafts such as cutting or tracing
Poor fine motor skills such as zipping clothes and unscrewing tops from jars
Might not be able to identify which part of their body was touched if they are not looking
Unable to identify items by feeling the shape

Hypersensitivity to Movement
Terrified of heights
Afraid of falling
Feels wobbly walking up or down stairs
Hates slides, swings and spinning playground equipment
Comes across as insecure as this child often clings to his parent
Hyposensitivity to Movement
Overactive and can't sit still
Loves spinning
A dare devil at amusement parks
Loves swinging fast and high
Loves jumping – on everything
Fidgety when sitting – taps foot, raps knuckles or bounces in chair
Poor muscle tone and coordination
Poor gross motor skills like jumping and climbing
Difficulty opening and closing jars, windows, doors etc.
Appears floppy and often thought of as lazy
Gets tired easily
Poor in coordinating movements
Appears to have no strength
Sensory seeking behaviors (What parents and teachers often notice first)
Chews on everything – clothes and objects
Falls down intentionally
Crashes into things on purpose
Pushes and bumps other children
Spins in circles
Enjoys banging objects
Loves bear hugs and being tucked tightly into bed
Jumps up and down
Kicks feet while seated
Flaps hands
Hypersensitivity to sounds
Afraid of hair dryers and vacuum cleaners
Covers ears with loud sounds
Cries or acts out in noisy places like a mall
Dislikes people because of their voice
Hears everything from a ticking watch to a car turning a corner at the top of their street

Oral and Olfactory Sensitivity
Very picky eater and will only eat certain foods because of the smell, taste or texture
Will only eat certain textures and might not mix foods on the same plate
Dislikes or gags with toothpaste
Chews or mouths inedible objects
Either craves sweet and spicy foods or only eats bland food
If a recipe varies even slightly, it will be tasted and the food discarded
Refuses to enter a place because of the way it smells
Self Regulation
Doesn't calm down easily if upset
Needs help falling asleep such as rocking or car rides
Wakes easily and has trouble falling back asleep
Frequent mood swings
Can't tell when hungry or thirsty. Eats or drinks too little or too much
One of the best things about sensory integration disorder is that there are so many fun activities to help. Thank you to all the Occupational Therapists who help our children conquer these challenges.
Don't forget to check out these two links for some great sensory items.
Sensory Equipment
Sensory Toys
By Jené Aviram
This article is property of and copyright © 2003-2010 Jené Aviram of Natural Learning Concepts. Reference of this article may only be included in your documentation provided that reference is made to the owner - Jené Aviram and a reference to this site
Jené is an accomplished author and developer of education materials for children with autism and special needs. She is a co-founder of Natural Learning Concepts, a leading manufacturer for special education materials and autism products. Visit the Natural Learning Concepts website at or call (800) 823-3430