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Sensory integration is the ability to take in information through senses (touch, movement, smell, taste, vision, and hearing), to put it together with prior information (memories, and knowledge stored in the brain), to make a meaningful response. Sensory integration occurs in the central nervous system. It is responsible for things such as coordination, attention, arousal levels, autonomic functioning, emotions, memory, and higher level cognitive functions.
Sensory Integration is the process in which the brain accepts messages from the senses and interprets them accordingly to an appropriate action or behavioral response. This process explains the connection between the brain and behavior which is the reason behind why certain individuals respond and act the way they are.
The five main senses are the following:
- Touch — tactile
- Sound — auditory
- Sight — visual
- Taste — gustatory
- Smell — olfactory
Aside from these, the two most powerful senses are the vestibular and proprioception, which provide balance and movement sense as well as joint and muscle sense respectively.
The lack of these senses can lead to poor motor skills or reflexes. In most cases, such issues are misdiagnosed as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). If left untreated, it can develop into more complicated problems as the child becomes an adult.
Sensory Integration Dysfunction is the “inability to modulate, discriminate, coordinate or organize sensation adaptively”. This could apply to the child they call clumsy, sloppy or forgetful because he always drops things and has delayed responses to situations or possibly your own child.
If your child or someone you know develops consistent signs of the following, get help immediately.
- Inability to hold or grasp things for a long time
- Always bumps into things
- Difficult to engage in conversation, work and play
- Isolation and low self esteem
- Disruptive or out of control
These along with many other emotional, social and educational problems are only a few of the symptoms and risks that can progress when Sensory Integration Dysfunction is left untreated and misdiagnosed.
Taking the First Step
Sensory Integration Identification Process
Just like most neurological conditions, Sensory Integration Dysfunction can be treated accordingly. The first step is to identify the problem. Here are the following identifying methods:
- Pull together information regarding your child's performance in his daily activities such as those of the classroom, home and other frequenting environment
- Carefully observe your child in a controlled environment while recording the child's responses to different kinds of sensory and motor skills enriching activities
- Parent-Caregiver questionnaire with interview and analysis
- Standardized sets of tests
The main goal of the intervention process is to facilitate the child's development, encouraging him or her to participate in normal everyday activities.
The Road to a Normal Childhood
Based on the sensory integration dysfunction identifying results, the facilitator can recommend the necessary level of occupational therapy for the child to finally be on the road to a normal childhood filled with fun and learning.
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