It hurts! Don't yell! I don't like the way it feels! It's too loud! These, among other phrases could be coming out of the mouths of certain special needs children. The so-called quirks that parents or caregivers may see coming out of their child could be a case of Sensory Integration Dysfunction or disorder. The range can be mild to severe. The mild case is a child who needs the inside tags removed from the shirt or pants, because "they're too itchy."
Sensory Integration Dysfunction can affect one or multiple senses, such as:
- tactile (touch)
- proprioceptive (movement and body position)
- vestibular (movement and balance)
Several neurological, psychological, and psychiatric disorders have similar symptoms of SID, such as PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), autism, Torte's syndrome and schizophrenia, to name a few.
Depending on the sense that is most effected, each child may have their own symptoms. Diagnosing SID sometimes becomes a wait and see as the child is studied, but this can also be detrimental to the child.
A child may avoid certain textures, touches, or even people. Environment may have an adverse affect on a visual sense dysfunction because there may be too much to look at, such as cluttered or crowded places.
Children who are over-sensitive with one or multiple senses, will seek less stimulation, such as avoiding crowded places or textures. Children who are under-sensitive, will see more stimulation, to the extent of be unaware of temperature, not knowing the difference between hot or cold, or crave rough play to gain more input.
In some cases, children who have other afflictions along with SID, the SID may play a major part in the child's disability. If a child is violent due to bipolar, the SID could increase the rage and endanger the child. There is no cure, but there are counselors and occupational therapists that can help children with this disorder. Knowing what the child's sensitive areas are can help with knowing what will or won't bother the child and removes them from being uncomfortable with their own body.