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  1. #1

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    Sensory Integration Processing Disorder

    Anybody familiar with this? My precious 3 year old grandson is being tested for this tomorrow. He's basically fine, but seems stressed when there's lots of noise, and he hates getting his hands dirty like with paint, clay, etc. He's way ahead verbally and plays well with others but only in small groups. He's kind of a loner and not a joiner. He's been tested for Austism, ADHD, etc., and he's ok there. He also loves to crash into things-walls, other kids, and he loves to roll back and forth from one side to the other incessantly. In the old days, my daughter says he'd just have been called "a hyper boy." But, he does have some stress, and we want to find out how we can help him. He is extremely happy most of the time, but quite manic. His Pre-K teachers say he's extremely smart (but of course! )

    I'm not actually worried, but I wouldn't be surprised, after reading on the web site about this disorder, that he's got some of it. I just wondered if anyone else has had experience with it. I went to my first source-my FSU-ers!

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    Holley, many, if not most, of the kids I work with have sensory issues. Usually it's dealt with by an OT or special needs teacher trained in sensory issues making up a sensory diet; we usually involve the whole team. They're actually a lot of fun to create and implement!

    There are some simple things that work with many kids, some like headphones, weighted vests or neck pillows, squeezey balls etc. can work wonders very quickly, other things like quiet time in a tent or covered by a blanket, rocking in a chair or on a horse, even just for a minute work well too. Sensory diets are very individualised.

    There are some fabulous books out there for activities that help with SI problems a let me know if you want some recommendations.
    Last edited by Angelskates; 04-10-2011 at 01:46 PM.

  3. #3

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    Thank you so much Angelskates! My daughter is educating herself pretty well, but any and all information I can gather is wonderful. We just got the little guy an inside-the-house tent (with Lighting McQueen and Tater on it!) and he practically lives in it. I wish this had been around for me when I was a kid. I think I had this too. Noises drive me insane.

    So bring it on, and thank you so much!

  4. #4
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    A friend of a friend's daughter has been diagnosed with this. She gets OT. But I would have never guessed--she seems just like any other child her age, may be a bit shy but that's not abnormal.

    When I was a kid, I'd crawl under my bed whenever my parents used the coffee grinder or the vacuum. Turned out OK without any therapy. I am still really really not fond of loud noises.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    When I was a kid, I'd crawl under my bed whenever my parents used the coffee grinder or the vacuum. Turned out OK without any therapy. I am still really really not fond of loud noises.
    Maybe you were a cat in a previous life.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    Maybe you were a cat in a previous life.
    I wouldn't be surprised.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

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    I think I might had (have) this disorder. When I was child, I was unable to use clothes. They hurt, so I was naked almost all the time. It used to drive my parents crazy!

    ...But I managed to start using clothes in public when I started school. No therapy was needed in my case either!

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    Holley --

    If your grandson is diagnosed with a sensory integration disorder -- or even not diagnosed and needing further diagnosis, I hope your daughter seeks out Child Find
    http://www.childfindidea.org/
    a program administered by local school districts under federal guidance to help identify and evaluate children from birth or later who may need special support or early intervention services. Early intervention can make a significant difference in a child's ability to make the most of K-12 schooling, and might include OT, developmental preschools, or other services to help the child and the family, as well as a smoother transition of needed services when the child begins kindergarten. Many middle-class parents don't find out about Child Find early enough. A call to the local school district's special education department should get her linked into the Child Find for her area.

    Good luck!

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    I hope the tests and results help your grandson Holley Colmes.

    But I have to say, I think that psychiatric diagnoses are going a bit too far. There are so many mental disorders out there and they inevitably reconstitute and reflect perceptions and assumptions regarding what is normal. Pretty much anyone can go to a psychiatrist with any complaint and receive a diagnosis for something.

    Isn't is possible that some people are just more sensitive to stimulation than others? And that maybe it is the one's who aren't so sensitive who have the problem? Urban environments today overload people with stimulation - there is traffic, overcrowded transit, big box stores and shopping malls flooded with echoes and artificial light. Tons of jarring, in-your face unpleasant stimulation that people learn to shut out in order to cope.

    That could possibly be called 'sensory blocking disorder' or 'sensory avoiding disorder' or some such term. And in desensitizing a child's natural sensory awareness and responses, we could be suppressing an important natural gift - the quality that makes people such as artists and healers good at what they do
    Last edited by Japanfan; 04-11-2011 at 02:13 AM.

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    Japanfan, I absolutely understand what you are saying, and that's why I wanted input from my FSU friends-you all come from so many cultures and you are all so informed and intelligent. I do treasure you! My sentence about him being "just a hyper boy" really hits the nail on the head. Plus, there are many musicians on both sides of my daughter's heritage. I can easily see Zach being hypersensitive to sound, as I was and still am.

    But- it's his mom who has the authority, and she is all for getting this input and testing. Zach has to live in the world he's been born into, with all the stressful situations. But I will definitely pass along your thoughts to her-they make a lot of sense.

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    Holley and Japanfan, the therapies and intervention are not ways of dulling the senses, it's a way of adjusting to make the child more comfortable. Autistic children, for example, who can be overly stimulated visually, should not just be put in a overly visually stimulating environment, instead, they can be gradually introduced to a new environment. Not treating sensory disorders can result in extreme fear/anxiety, just like someone who is scared of heights being told to get in a plane instead of gradually working on the process of overcoming the fear. It's not just the their over-stimulation/under-stimulation, it's the reaction to the stimulation (behaviour problems, extreme fear or anxiety etc.). I have SI issues myself, and am also an introvert, and I have had to learn how to deal with it to still live comfortably in society.

    SI how this sensory information is taken in, organised, and utilised to interpret the surrounding environment and make the body ready to learn, move, regulate energy levels and emotions, interact, and develop properly. If someone doesn't learn that clothing is necessary, or gets extreme anxiety from touching water - then that is treated, not by dulling the sense, but by overcoming the fear/anxiety or regulating the stimulation to a particular situation that is socially acceptable. For example, many kids with SI problems have issues with touching themselves all the time, while this is normal and healthy sometimes, it is not socially acceptable in public, and some an alternative tactile stimulation is given (usually a squishy ball), the same as hand washing is expected after using the bathroom...it's not about dumbing down the senses, it's about integration into the world in which we live.

    Holley, here is a handout I often give parents - you can find more here (search 'sensory). Creative therapies, such as art, music, dance and drama therapies are also great in addition to OT. It's all about making the child comfortable living in the real world, not shutting out the real world.
    Last edited by Angelskates; 04-11-2011 at 02:49 AM.

  12. #12

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    I'll be praying tou you and your family. Good luck
    DH - and that's just my opinion

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    Hi Holley,

    I am an OT and I work with lots of kids who have "Sensory Integration Disorder" - although we don't diagnose it as such here in Canada. I just thought that I'd share my experience and my thoughts with you...

    Your grandson sounds very sweetl. It's great that he has been assessed and it has not been determined that he has autism or ADHD. It certainly sounds like he is a bright boy and he certainly has a very loving Grandmother!

    We all have sensory preferences. If we polled people here on this board, we would find people who get stressed or don't work well in noisy environments and others who need background noise to concentrate. We would find people who love to get dirty, and others who don't like it very much at all. We would find people who are picky eaters and others who will eat anything. People who like amusement park rides and others who get carsick. See my point... And, we all use sensory input to help us deal with stressful situations or attend and focus when needed (ie. chewing gum when studying, going for a walk during a break at work helps us return to our desk to work). We all have sensory preferences and there is nothing to worry about that. The problem comes when sensory preferences impact a person's ability to do all the things that they want to do in their lives. And kids don't have the ability that we as adults do to know what our bodies need and to get the sensory information that we need. That's when we as OT's start to do evaluations and develop sensory diets.

    It sounds like your little guy has a strong need for "vestibular" and "proprioceptive" sensory input to his muscles and joints. These types of sensory information are important in developing a sense of body awareness, a sense of body position in space, motor planning skills, and they tend to be very calming for the nervous system. And, it sounds like your little guy has some sensitivity to auditory and tactile or touch sensory stimulation. Participation in some of these movement activities should help to calm his nervous system and may help him deal with the sensory sensitivity. An OT could help you understand his behaviour and develop a list of sensory activities that you can do with your little guy - all fun, play-based activities - that he will find enjoyable and may help with some of these difficulties. OT's may also be able to help him use some cognitive-behavioral strategies when he gets older to help him deal with stressful situations - relaxation strategies, sensory based activities, etc... A great program used in the schools is the How Does Your Engine Run program. For example, if he is hyper (as you describe) and this is impacting his ability to attend and focus in school, he can use this program to find activities (ex. chewing gum to give him some proprioceptive input through his mouth, or going for a walk) that may help him find a more appropriate level of alertness for learning.

    The purpose of therapy is not to dull the senses - nothing can change how your body registers sensory information. Sensory integration therapy is a treatment approach, originally developed with the purpose to provide the child with graded sensory sensory experiences to promote an adaptive response. That's the technical definition. However, there is not much/if any research to demonstrate that the therapy provides much change to their underlying neurological functioning. For example, a child who is sensitive to sounds may learn to become more familiar with certain sounds, but they will likely always have a low threshold for sensory information and always be sensitive to sensory information. Current theory seems to be moving in the direction of educating parents, making certain accomodations, and helping children to learn to regulate their behaviour and function to the best of their ability given their sensory processing capabilities.

    It's true, in the past he may have been described as a hyper child, with a few "odd" behaviors (when you consider the sensitivity to sounds and touch). There is a big push to include Sensory Integration Processing Disorder in the DSM. Whether that happens or not, it is beyond me... In Canada, we don't talk about Sensory Integration Disorder like they do in the states because our health care system is different and we don't do treatment in the way it was intended - direct therapy, in clinic. We talk more about Sensory Processing in a more functional way. Depending on who you see, they may have a slightly different take on the subject.

    One of my favorite resources is the book - The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock-Kranowitz. Her website is http://out-of-sync-child.com/. She has another book called the Out of Sync Child has Fun. I would highly recommend these books - they may be even more helpful after you talk with an OT and learn a little more specifically about your grandson.

    All the best to you!
    Last edited by Bailey_; 04-11-2011 at 04:10 AM.

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    Thank you Bailey!!! What fabulous input! Wow-I knew I could count on my FSU friends. You guys are the best! I can't wait to share your input with my daughter tomorrow. xoxoxoxo to you all. But-keep it coming! I'll let you know what the therapists say. BTW-Zach is probably the most adorable child in the entire universe. Just wanted you to know that....

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    Holley, I second the Out-of-Sync Child books, the activities are great for kids, regardless of their diagnosis. There are also some great art activity books that focus on specific senses which I will look up and send you (interestingly, all of the books have been updated with a name change from Sensory Integration Dysfunction to Sensory Processing Disorder - it's hard to keep up with all of the name changes in the field of special needs!)

    Here are the books I have lent parents, and they have found useful:


  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey_ View Post
    OT's may also be able to help him use some cognitive-behavioral strategies when he gets older to help him deal with stressful situations - relaxation strategies, sensory based activities, etc... A great program used in the schools is the How Does Your Engine Run program. For example, if he is hyper (as you describe) and this is impacting his ability to attend and focus in school, he can use this program to find activities (ex. chewing gum to give him some proprioceptive input through his mouth, or going for a walk) that may help him find a more appropriate level of alertness for learning.
    My bf has very VERY low tolerance for noise and crowds, and I think being able to communicate your needs (and have the confidence to do so!) will be paramount when Holley's grandson is older. Finding help in this aspect is a great idea, but I certainly don't think that there's anything wrong with Holley's grandson, or my bf for that matter.

    It's just that certain aspects of life can be difficult when you're extra-sensitive to things that are commonplace, so finding coping mechanisms is definitely the way to go!

  17. #17

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    My 4 year old son has sensory processing disorder. He is tactile defensive and has some vestibular and proprioceptive sensory issues. Angleskates and Bailey have summed things up very nicely, but I will add that I also highly recommend the Out-of-Sync child. Sensory OT therapy works wonders. I would recommend, however, that you seek out an OT that specializes in sensory. Not all of them do.
    Last edited by algonquin; 04-11-2011 at 02:38 PM. Reason: Grammar

  18. #18

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    Thanks again, everyone, for your fabulous input. I will fill my daughter in with all you guys have given me-it's fantastic. You guys are the best.

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    Thanks for your informed insights, Angelskates and Bailey.

    The purpose of therapy is not to dull the senses - nothing can change how your body registers sensory information.
    I'm extremely sensitive to sensory stimulation and the way it registers does change in relation to how tired and stressed I am. And the change is extreme, I can experience severe distress from over-stimulation versus a very pleasant, almost high feeling of just having fun with it.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey_ View Post
    There is a big push to include Sensory Integration Processing Disorder in the DSM. Whether that happens or not, it is beyond me...
    I read somewhere that psychologists do not believe in Sensory Integration. Is that part of the reason why it is not in the DSM?

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