Did you know?
For an average child, someone else’s light touch on their skin would go almost unnoticed. But for a SID child, any sensory stimulation not invited or prepared for can be overwhelming and even painful to endure.
It has been discovered that 30% of school-aged children are labeled as having learning disabilities. Seventy percent of these children have Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) as the underlying cause of their disorders. These children, however, have an excellent chance of being able to succeed alongside their peers, with the proper treatment. Here are pointers on understanding this ailment and how parents can best cope with caring for these afflicted children.
SID isn’t one specific disorder but an umbrella term for a number of neurological difficulties. Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) is also known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Dysfunction in Sensory Integration (DSI). Simply put, an SID child isn’t able to interact with his/her external environment properly because their brains are unable to process sensory information effectively.
Each child with SID has a unique combination of varying symptoms, and therefore, it can be very difficult to diagnose and treat. Main categories that Occupational Therapists tend to test these children under include, but aren’t limited to, “Sensory Modulation Problems” (how the child regulates responses to sensations); “Sensory Discrimination Problems” (inability to distinguish one sensation from another); “Sensory-Based Motor Problems” (how the child moves/is aware of his body); and “Associated Regulatory and Behaviour Problems” (issues that can result from SID).
It can be difficult to diagnose SID in children, especially toddlers and preschoolers. The following are things to watch for:
(1) Oversensitivity to environmental stimuli: over-the-top reactions to sensory stimuli, especially when it’s very slight or hardly noticible to anyone else. For example gagging to smells; covering the ears to sounds; covering the eyes to light or screaming at even the lightest touch.
(2) Undersensitivity to environmental stimuli: opposite to oversensitivity. The child doesn’t seem to notice or react to any sort of stimuli.
(3) Sticklers for routine: all children need a routine but SID children tend to hold on tight to what’s comfortable and will react adversely if their routine is different. The child will also tend avoid anything new including food, play, toys or people.
(4) Avoiding social situations: SID children tend to avoid situations where they’d be exposed to too much stimuli. If they feel they can’t control what’s happening around them or things aren’t familiar, it causes discomfort they can’t handle.
(5) Fits: this is more common in very young children whose verbal skills aren’t as developed. They aren’t able to communicate what’s troubling them so they will have inconsolable tantrums. Most toddlers have tantrums but with SID children they are longer, more frequent and much more intense.
A child suffering with a severe case of this disorder can affect his/her ability to interact with other people, ability to function in daily life or even just enjoying being a child. This disorder can’t be cured, but with proper therapy and care, the child can learn how to recognize sensations and learn to cope better dealing with these sensations.
If your child displays any of these symptoms there’s no need to assume they have SID – they could simply be “spirited”. However, if you have concerns it’s best to get your child assessed as soon as possible. The earlier they’re diagnosed and undergo treatment, the sooner they can learn coping skills to help them live a relatively normal life.