What are sensory integration issues?

Dr. Heather Wittenberg, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Sensory issues in your child’s development affect many families around the world. Young children are a work in progress, neurologically. New connections are made every day, connecting the body and bodily sensations with the brain. Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, the vestibular sense (the sensation of the body’s position in space)—all of these sensations are bombarding your child’s brain with new information. How can the brain sort it all out? How can the brain “filter in” and “filter out” certain information? For instance, in a noisy room, how can your child pick out your voice, when he’s hearing several? It’s a complicated neurological process that develops slowly, throughout childhood.

Children differ in how they process sensory information. They can be over- or under-sensitive in any (or several) of the senses. This can be overwhelming for the child and result in frustration and behavioral problems.

Sensory integration issue is a disorder where one experiences a wide range of difficulties when processing input coming from a variety of senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell).

There are 3 types of sensory integration issues.

  • Sensory modulation disorder: Individual over responds or under responds to a sensory stimulus.
  • Sensory-based motor disorder: Individual has postural or coordination problems.
  • Sensory discrimination disorder: Individual has incorrect processing of visual and hearing stimuli.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.