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Sensory integration (Rohan Foundation)

What Sensory Processing Disorder Looks Like
Sensory Processing Disorder can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to touch sensation and find clothing, physical contact, other tactile sensory input to be unbearable and/or they may respond to visual or auditory or another sensory input. Another person might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold or just may be slow to respond to sensation. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These children have postural disorder and are the "floppy” children who prop themselves up on walls when standing, lean over on their hand when writing and love to hang out, but not to move. The old fashioned “couch potato” now turned “mouse potato” as society becomes 2-dimensional (auditory and visual) with I-Pads, I-watches and I-everything! In yet another subtype (dyspraxia) children are awkward and clumsy and get called "klutz" and "spaz" on the playground, always the last to be picked for a team in PE. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive, we call these children sensory cravers. They seem almost addicted to intense stimulation but when they get they become dysregulated. These kids often are misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD.

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Sensory Integration
Children and adults with autism, as well as those with other developmental disabilities, may have a dysfunctional sensory system. Sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation. Such sensory problems may be the underlying reason for such behaviors as rocking, spinning, and hand-flapping. Although the receptors for the senses are located in the peripheral nervous system (which includes everything but the brain and spinal cord), it is believed that the problem stems from neurological dysfunction in the central nervous system--the brain. As described by individuals with autism, sensory integration techniques, such as pressure-touch can facilitate attention and awareness, and reduce overall arousal. Temple Grandin, in her descriptive book, Emergence: Labeled Autistic, relates the distress and relief of her sensory experiences.

Sensory integration is an innate neurobiological process and refers to the integration and interpretation of sensory stimulation from the environment by the brain. In contrast, sensory integrative dysfunction is a disorder in which sensory input is not integrated or organized appropriately in the brain and may produce varying degrees of problems in development, information processing, and behavior. A general theory of sensory integration and treatment has been developed by Dr. A. Jean Ayres from studies in the neurosciences and those pertaining to physical development and neuromuscular function. This theory is presented in this paper.

SID
Sensory processing (originally called "sensory integration dysfunction" or SID) refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a sandwich, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires accurate processing of sensation.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), exists when sensory signals are either not detected or don't get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist, educational psychologist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and many other problems may impact those who do not have effective treatment.

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