Sign and Symptoms

How do issues with sensory integration affect a person?

OVERLY SENSITIVE TO TOUCH, MOVEMENT, SIGHTS, SMELLS, TASTES AND SOUNDS.

This may be present in behaviours such as irritability or withdrawal when touched, avoidance of certain textures of clothes or food, distractibility, fearful reactions to ordinary movement activities (swinging, spinning).


UNDER-REACTIVE TO SENSORY STIMULATION

Different to the above, an under–responsive child or adult may seek  sensory experiences such as whirling or crashing into people and objects. He or she may seem oblivious to pain or to body position. Some children or adults fluctuate between extremes of over- and under – responsiveness.


ACTIVITY LEVEL THAT IS UNUSUALLY HIGH OR LOW

The child or adult may be constantly on the move or may be slow to warm–up and fatigue easily.  Some people fluctuate between extremes.


COORDINATION PROBLEMS

This can be seen in gross and fine motor activities. Some children or adults may have poor balance, while others have great difficulty learning to do a new task that requires motor coordination.


DELAYS IN SPEECH, LANGUAGE, MOTOR SKILLS, OR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

These may be evident in a pre-schooler along with other signs of poor sensory integration. In a school-aged child, there may be problems in some academic areas despite normal intelligence.  in adults, difficulties can affect skills needed in the workplace or a social/community setting.


POOR ORGANISATION OF BEHAVIOUR

This child or adult may be impulsive or distractible and show a lack of planning in approach to tasks. Some children or adults have difficulty adjusting to new situations. Others may react with frustration, aggression, or withdrawal when they encounter failure.


POOR SELF-CONCEPT

Often a person with sensory processing difficulties ‘does not quite feel right.’ A bright child or adult may know that some tasks are more difficult than others but may not know why. This person can often present as bored, lazy or unmotivated. Some children or adults develop strategies to avoid those tasks that are hard or embarrassing. When this happens, the person may be considered troublesome or stubborn. When a problem is difficult to understand, children, adults and carers  may blame themselves. Family tension, poor self-concept and a general feeling of hopelessness may follow.

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