Sensory integration disorder is the inability to process external stimuli through one's five senses. It is a neurological disorder that causes an under-sensitivity or oversensitivity to the sights, sounds, smells, touch or movement of one's environment. Individuals with this disorder are usually unable to process or are extremely sensitive to where their body is relative to space and position. According to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the research, education and advocacy for individuals with sensory integration disorder, one in 20 children in the general population is affected with sensory integration disorder. Although most often seen in children, sensory integration disorder can also affect adults. Sensory integration disorder is also referred to as SID, SI dysfunction or sensory integration dysfunction.
Children suffering from sensory integration disorder will dislike direct eye contact and bright lights. They can most often be found staring intently at a person or object and show strong preference to be in the dark due to their light sensitivity, according to A + Academy, a school in Melbourne Florida that offers special curriculum for children with various disorders.
Background noises, loud or startling noises and sensitivity to loud rooms are all hearing behaviours that would be displayed by someone experiencing sensory integration disorder.
A + Academy indicates some of the behaviours related to the taste sense include avoiding tastes that are routinely part of a child's diet or having a preference for strong tastes such as sour or salty foods. Some behaviours that involve smell could include smelling nonfood objects such as toys, avoiding common smells or being unable to smell strong odours.
Behaviours related to touch include inappropriate responses to pain or temperature, sensitivity to certain types of fabric, disliking the feeling of glue, play dough, paint or sand or disliking being barefoot in the grass or sand.
Other behaviours commonly associated with sensory integration include being uncomfortable playing on playground equipment and disliking when his feet leave the ground such as swinging, jumping or climbing. A child with sensory integration disorder can be a high risk taker and have no regard for safety of self. SID individuals can be overly affectionate, hang onto others or even cling to inanimate objects such as furniture, even if in familiar situations.
Another common behaviour a child with sensory integration disorder may exhibit is consistently being seen walking on her tip toes.
Individuals diagnosed with autism disorders, ADD, ADHD, fragile X syndrome, are gifted intellectually, have Tourette's syndrome or speech delays are much more susceptible to sensory integration dysfunction than those without any of these diagnosis, according to the SPD Foundation.
Although the behaviours of sensory integration may be similar to other disorders, the treatment is not the same. Sensory integration being a neurological disorder is treated with a therapy program that works to manage the inability to process one's environmental stimuli. Usually therapy takes place with an occupational therapist focusing on all five senses and movement of the body. Prescribing medicine to treat sensory integration disorder will not resolve the dysfunction, but merely treat the symptoms.