Signs and Symptoms

The affects on a child who experiences issue with sensory integration

How do issues with sensory integration affect a person?

They may be overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, smells, taste 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).

They may be under reactive to sensory stimulation.

Different to the above, an under–responsive child or young 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 young adults fluctuate between extremes of over- and under – responsiveness.

They may have an activity level that is unusually high or low.

The child or adult may be constantly on the move, may be slow to warm–up, or may become tired quickly.  Some people fluctuate between extremes.

They may have coordination problems.

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

They may have 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 young adults, difficulties can affect skills needed in the workplace or a social/community setting.

They may have poor organisation or behaviour. 

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

They may feel frustrated, have a poor opinion of themselves, and lack confidence.

Often a person with sensory processing difficulties ‘does not feel right.’  A child or young adult may know that some tasks are difficult but may not know why. A person can feel isolated and unmotivated.  Some children and young people develop strategies to avoid tasks that are hard for them.  Others have lots of emotional and behavioural difficulties as they struggle to cope with how they feel.  All these issues affect their self-esteem and confidence.