If your baby is having trouble sitting down, crying screaming while taking a bath, and does not like being held, he may have a problem with sensory integration. So how can we solve these problems? What are the symptoms and is it possible to improve this situation? What you need to know about sensory integration and occupational therapy Koç University Hospital Young Child Adolescent Psychiatry Dr. We asked Tuba Mutluer …
Sensory integration is about how our brain receives and processes sensory information. Sensory integration is a process that starts at a very early stage, in the womb. It occurs when stimuli from the environment are perceived with different sensory organs and transmitted to our brain. The brain processes these stimuli and reveals an appropriate response to this stimulus. Our brain can process seven different senses. These senses are vision, hearing, smell, touch, taste, inner perception (body awareness) and vestibular perception (movement and balance). However, some children may experience sensory integration problems. Sensory integration problem is seen in some children as overreacting to events in their environment, while in others it can be seen as unresponsive. In both cases, sensory integration impairs the child’s development and prevents socialization.
Children with sensory integration problems may show different symptoms according to their age and developmental level. These children experience problems during the transmission of various sensory stimuli from the environment to the brain. This problematic transmission, on the other hand, can cause the child to react very differently, and the root of the problem can be difficult to understand. Careful observation of the sensory stimulus that causes the child’s problem behavior is valuable.
This situation, which is generally seen in children, can be seen in the form of falling due to balance problems in daily life, excessive (aggressive) or low (silent) reaction to stimuli, avoiding social life and personal contact. For example; These children may overreact to touch the play dough, step on the mud / sand, light or sound, or vice versa. In some children, it can manifest itself in the form of increased restlessness and restlessness in certain environments.
Sensory integration problems vary widely according to age and development and are seen as a series of symptoms that are not specific to this condition. The diagnosis and treatment processes should be planned after these symptoms, which I have listed below, are evaluated by a child psychiatrist.
- Don’t be uncomfortable with being held
- Being asleep all the time or not sleeping at all
- Feeding problems, difficulty in sucking
- Crying when you go to someone other than the caregiver
- Being uncomfortable in clothes, getting angry while wearing clothes
- Rare playing with toys, especially those that require skill
- Difficulty moving from one object or activity to another
- Not feeling or reacting late to pain
- Difficulty calming yourself
- Loose body build, lack of balance and frequent hitting
- Moving your body steadily or crying when it is moved
- Being uncomfortable and crying from taking a bath
- Trouble sitting, moving slowly or being overactive
- Overreacting to certain stimuli (such as ear closure in audible stimuli)
- Being very excited, excessive mobility and inability to calm down in certain environments
- Difficult adaptation to the new environment and showing behavioral problems in transitions
- Discomfort in clothes, problems going to the toilet
- Sudden mood swings with stimulus change
- Failure to understand operational commands
- Not knowing how to move with empty hands
- Difficulty making friends
- Looking weak, suddenly feeling sluggish when dealing with a job
- Don’t touch everything and everyone around you
- Difficulty in motor skills such as using a pencil and button-up
- Avoiding some toys in the park
- Difficulty playing games with friends
- Stable and uniform game play
- Not to interfere with the game
- Don’t be afraid to socialize
- Be sensitive to touch
- Delay and strain in gross motor skills such as climbing, running and fine motor skills such as pencil holding and painting
- Difficulty learning new motor skills
- Overreacting to external factors, being too sensitive
- Quick distraction in the classroom, inability to stay still
- Getting overwhelmed in the classroom, during recess, when playing games
- Performing tasks slowly
- Difficulty reading aloud, especially
- Difficulty making friends
- Difficulty with motor skills such as handwriting
- Don’t hunch, don’t look clumsy
- Learning new activities slowly
- Prefer more passive activities
- Being stuck doing one job and not being able to switch to another job
- Confusing words with similar sounds, misunderstanding questions
Problems with the sensory integration process were most often autism spectrum disorder, lack of attention, hyperactivity disorderdevelopmental retardation and some genetic syndromes (down syndrome such as) accompany. Sometimes the symptoms associated with sensory integration problems in an undiagnosed child may give a different appearance of illness (for example, hyperactivity or aggression at an early age), but can regress with appropriate intervention. Sensory integration problems should be considered, regardless of possible diagnoses, and necessary interventions should be initiated, especially in children who are younger (first 3 years), who show changes with certain environment and environmental factors, and who are accompanied by developmental differences or retardation.
The treatment should be tailored to the individual needs of the child, and this is different for each child. Children with sensory integration problems should first be evaluated by a child psychiatrist and evaluated in terms of their mental, motor and social development and other possible accompanying psychiatric diseases. Then, special educational planning should be made for the needs of the child, and it should be directed to therapists (occupational therapists) specialized in sensory integration therapy. In sensory integration therapy, it is aimed to integrate the child’s sensory information, to gain the ability to self-regulate, to establish a relationship with the physical environment and to plan his movement, and to gain the ability to cope with the areas where he / she has difficulties. With sensory integration therapy, many problems such as regulation problems, stressful sensory stimuli and self-control in environmental changes, socialization problems, difficulty in communicating with peers can be intervened. It should be administered regularly and by experienced therapists who have been trained in this field.
The treatment of sensory integration disorder is sensory integration therapy, which is an occupational therapy method. In ergotherapy, it is aimed to improve the fine motor, gross motor and perception skills of the child with movement and interaction-based games. By asking the family to eliminate visual stimuli such as tablets, phones, puzzles and blocks, the child is encouraged to move and play more. Some children may also be offered massage.
The aim is to improve the gross and fine motor skills of the child and reduce their sensory sensitivity by balance and exercise activities in which different sensory stimuli are presented to the child in a certain order. With this method, activities towards self-care and increasing their own skills are made to the child.
Occupational therapists apply certain tests to children with sensory integration problems, identify sensory problems with clinical observation and information from parents, and determine the therapy program for the needs of the child. It is ensured that children achieve greater success in activities that are meaningful to them. These are activities such as eating, dressing, playing, writing, and staying calm.
Children with sensory integration problems may have sensory sensitivities and obsessive moods in adulthood, irregularity in their developmental processes and failure in childhood experiences. As the child grows, it is expected that his communication with the outside world will increase, his socialization, friendship develop, and his academic performance will increase. However, for children who grow up with sensory integration problems, all these experiences become a nightmare. Difficulties gradually increase in fulfilling the basic functions of life such as eating, sleeping, self-care, regulation of emotions and movements, and developing social relations. The person will not be able to fulfill the role expectations in daily life, and thus functional impairments occur.