Sensory integration and sensory processing disorder
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Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorder. Supporting Children’s Diverse Learning. All of these children are demonstrating signs of problems with sensory integration:. Thomas covers his ears when the children are singing

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Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing Disorder

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Sensory Integration andSensory Processing Disorder

Supporting Children’s Diverse Learning

All of these children are demonstrating signs of problems with sensory integration:

  • Thomas covers his ears when the children are singing

  • Temple rolls all over the floor while others are sitting circle time

  • Brianna refuses to touch

    play dough, sand or paint

  • Miguel climbs on top of

    tables and jumps off

  • Cassandra often falls down

    and skins her knees.

  • William refuses to play on playground equipment

Autism vs SPD

  • Children with Autism will have always have some sensory processing disorder issues

  • Children diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder do not necessarily have Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • In fact, sometimes children who display SPD are misdiagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder

This is Sensory Integration!

Feel the air blowing from an

air conditioner

See background view of the room around you

Hear sounds of the television in another room

Hear children laughing outside

Feel the blanket wrapped around your legs

Smell of a candle burning

Taste of the coffee you are drinking

  • Everyone has difficulty processing some sensory stimuli and everyone has sensory preferences

  • It becomes a sensory processing disorder when a child is on extreme ends of the continuum demonstrating disruptive, unpredictable fluctuations which significantly impact their developmental skills or everyday functioning

Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses….a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly (Ayers, 1999).

  • 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.

Tactile: the sense of touch; input from the skin receptors about touch, pressure, temperature, pain and movement of the hairs on the skin.

Auditory: input relating to sounds; one's ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to sounds

Taste: input relating to the mouth; one's ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to input within the mouth

Smell: input relating to smell; one's ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to different odors.

Visual: input relating to sight; one's ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to what one sees.

  • Vestibular: the sense of movement; input from the inner ear about equilibrium, gravitational changes, movement experiences and position in space.

  • Proprioception: the sense of "position"; input from the muscles and joints about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position.

Responses to Sensory Input

  • Children typically learn through interaction with their environment

  • Because SPD affects the child’s overall development, participation in typical experiences will be lacking, inconsistent, or ineffective

  • A child who is overwhelmed by sensory information from his environment will unable to learn effectively

  • A child who is under-stimulated by the environment will also lack the input necessary to learn

Types of Responses to Inputs


Typical Response



Impact on Learning

  • Coordination problems

  • Poor attention span or difficulty focusing on tasks

  • Academic-related problems such as poor handwriting and difficulty cutting with scissors

  • Problems with self care skills such as tying shoes, zipping

  • Low self-esteem

  • Over-sensitivity to touch, sight, or sounds

  • Unusually high or low activity level

Sensory Avoiders

  • Most common type of sensory


  • Over-responsive to sensations

  • Brain unable to reduce stimuli

  • Children may be passive and try to get away from objects or activities that are frightening to them

  • May choose to do a less frightening activity

  • Other children may be aggressive or forceful in their response to sensations – kick and scream not to do what is frightening to them

Sensory Seekers

  • Craves excessive stimulation

  • Never satisfied with the amount of stimulation received

Sensory Under-Responders

  • Does not seem to notice inputs from the sensory system

  • Gives less of a response to

    stimuli than other children

  • May react very slowly or

    need extra strong input

    before responding

    Any combination of the above sensory integration disorder types could occur in any combination of senses


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