Advice Column, Parenting, Toddler, Toptots

Sensory Integration Difficulties

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.
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