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The child is often clumsy, misbehaves, is constantly on the move or gets tired quickly, or maybe he doesn't like specific flavors, washing his hair, is irritated by some clothes? This is how sensory integration disorders can manifest themselves. Find out how you can help him.

Osensory integration disorders(SI - sensor integration) has been spoken in Poland since the 1990s (in the world since the 1960s). It is about the nervous system organization of sensory impressions (visual, auditory, tactile, movement and gravity, olfactory, taste) that reach a person. It allows us to correctly perceive and interpret sensory stimuli, thanks to which it enables us to respond adequately to the situation (motor and mental response).

The process of building sensory integration begins in the fetal period, it is most intense in the first 3 years of life and lasts until around the age of 7. It happens, however, that it does not run as smoothly as it should, then various difficulties appear in the functioning and behavior of the child. Sensory integration disorders are also a natural consequence of damage to the sensory organs, e.g. hearing loss or sight defects.

Sensory integration disorders

AI disorders have an impact on a child's learning, behavior, and socio-emotional development. Problems will not go away on their own and may get worse or take another form over time. Well-conducted therapy can minimize most disorders, so it is important to recognize the problem early. A correct diagnosis can only be made by a sensory integration therapist with a certificate of completion of a two-stage course. It can be found, for example, on the website of the Polish Association of Sensory Integration Therapists It is also worth paying attention to the therapist's experience, ask for references. This is important because SI therapy is a neurodevelopmental therapy, so it is not indifferent to he alth.

The diagnosis of SI (sensory integration) disorders includes 2-4 meetings and consists of an interview with the parents, observation of the child during free and planned activity, as well as specialized tests. Based on the collected information, the therapist makes a diagnosis and, if therapy is needed, develops an individual plan.


Risk factors of sensory integration disorders

The probability of later problems increases, among others lying pregnant for a long time due to the risk of miscarriage, taking medications, stress, drinking alcohol or smoking by a pregnant woman.

Important risk factors are: preterm labor, caesarean section or complications during labor, such as hypoxia.

These disorders can also occur in children who are limited by the natural need to explore the world through their senses.

Symptoms of sensory integration disorders

SI disorders manifest as:

  • excessive or too little sensitivity to sensory stimuli (in the first case, the child may react by crying to noise, avoid certain types of food, clothes, do not like washing his hair; in the second - he does not pay attention to cold or pain, your body);
  • inappropriate level of attention (the child cannot concentrate on one activity any longer, easily distracted);
  • reduced level of motor coordination (the toddler has poor balance, often stumbles, falls over, has difficulty throwing and catching a ball, may have trouble drawing, using scissors, dressing);
  • delayed speech development;
  • abnormal level of motor activity (the child is hyperactive - constantly runs, turns, or on the contrary - reluctantly takes up movement sentences, gets tired quickly);
  • behavioral difficulties (the child may have trouble adjusting to the new situation, reacts aggressively or withdraws).

If your child develops some of these behaviors, it's worth talking to your pediatrician who will refer them to a psychologist. You can also fill in the sensorimotor questionnaire on the website, checking whether it is worth carrying out the diagnosis. The therapy can be conducted in a state psychological and pedagogical counseling center or in a private office.

Therapy of sensory integration disorders

Therapy of sensory integration disorders is intended primarily for children in preschool and early school age with normal and impaired development, who have difficulties in everyday functioning. But AI therapists even work with babies who, for example, have eating problems, telling parents what to do to prevent the disorder.

The task of the therapy is to provide a controlled amount of sensory stimuli through "scientific fun". This is, for example, swinging in a hammock, skateboarding, playing with various plastic masses. Thanks to such pleasant play, the integration of sensory stimuli is improved and processes are strengthenednervous, which are the basis for the development of specific skills (e.g. writing, cycling).

Classes are held in a specially adapted room, usually 45-60 minutes each once or twice a week. Parents can watch them. It is important to work with your child at home. The effects of therapy can sometimes be noticed after a dozen or so classes, but it usually lasts at least a year.

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