The Homeschool Diner’s Guide to Special Needs Homeschooling
Dysfunctional Sensory Integration (DSI)
aka Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)
aka Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
aka Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities (OE’s)
by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006
Sensory processing refers to how we experience our surroundings.
How we take in information through our senses (touch, movement, smell, taste, vision, and hearing), organize and interpret that information, and make a meaningful and appropriate response.
Most people process information about their surroundings without even thinking about it. Lights may be glaringly bright, but we squint and ignore them. A room full of noisy people may make conversation difficult, but we talk louder and listen harder. Most of us never notice if our sock has a wrinkle in it, or care if our food is lumpy. But for people with sensory processing disorders, these situations bombard their senses, feeling more like an attack than a nuisance.
Sensory processing issues can make it difficult for children to concentrate, and may be misinterpreted as signs of ADD. Their seeming “over-reaction” to sensory input can also be misinterpreted as behavioral issues.
When a child is unable to cope with typical daily doses of noise, fluorescent lights, scratchy tags, food textures, and jostling crowds – parents may seek help from Occupational Therapists (OT’s) that are trained in sensory processing issues. Therapy can reduce the child’s anxiety and help them cope with and minimize their sensitivities.
At the opposite end of sensory processing issues, there are also children who seem oblivious to their senses. They seem to feel no pain and fear nothing. They may love rough-housing, and try to get other children to wrestle with them, not realizing that others don’t enjoy it.
They may be spinners or rockers, and often love spicy or sour foods. Therapy can help these children to be more aware of their senses, help them moderate their behavior, and help their families provide a daily “sensory diet” rich in sensory experiences.