Sensory Integration Impact

A child’s ability to integrate the senses affects a variety of occupations throughout childhood. Sensory integration affects many aspects of daily living including attention, social relationships, and organizing actions.

What are some indicators my child has difficulty with sensory integration?
• A child demonstrating difficulties processing tactile information may demonstrate some of the following:
• Aversions to light touch
• Dislikes self-care activities (dressing, eating, bathing, grooming)
• Dislikes going bare foot or crawling outside across a variety of textures (grass, sand, dirt, etc.)
• Touchy child
• Avoids messy play
• A child demonstrating difficulties processing vestibular information may demonstrate some of the following actions:
• Dislikes diaper changes
• Dislikes washing hair
• Avoids gross motor play and environmental exploration
• Distressed by rough play
• Likes to spin or swing
• A child demonstrating difficulties with processing proprioceptive information may demonstrate the following actions:
• Frequent stopping
• Pushing objects or people
• Likes to crash and jump
• Frequently moves quickly
• A child demonstrating difficulties with processing auditory information may demonstrate some of the following:
• Hands over their ears
• Frequent yelling
• Frequently distressed by loud noises
• Dislikes music

A child’s ability to learn and develop new skills is also impacted by sensory integration. For example, regulating emotions and level of arousal, learning to interact with their environment, play and social skills, routines, and finding personal balance all require sensory integration.

Using a sensory integrative approach provides your child with the just right challenge. Your therapist will work within the child’s current abilities and provide them with the experience and knowledge necessary to produce adaptive responses and increase generalization of skills across contexts.

By Dr. Baily Zubel, OTD, OTR/L