Many times a child who appears to have great difficulty with focusing and attending to a task is really struggling with a sensory processing problem. The child’s sensory system is not functioning correctly, resulting in errant signals. An example of this would be a malfunctioning sensory system that shouts “pain,” when a tag on a shirt touches the skin. Another example is when a child covers his ears at fairly minor unexpected sounds, because the sensory system is giving the errant signal that the sound is too loud. This child is not just distracted by his outside environment, but is distracted by his inside environment as well.
The following are some of the typical symptoms of sensory dysfunction:

  • Auditory:
  • The child displays sensitivity to loud noises.
  • The child struggles with language skills.
  • The child dislikes being in a group to the point of avoiding most group situations.
  • The child struggles with transitions and changes of any kind.
  • Taste/Textures:
  • The child is bothered by certain food textures, such as lumps in yogurt.
  • The child won’t eat meat.
  • The child id a very selective eater, preferring mostly carbohydrates.
  • The child dislikes it when food on the same plate touches.
  • Touch:
  • The child finds clothing tags an irritant.
  • The child dislikes nonsoft clothing such as jeans.
  • The child insists his socks have to have the seam “just right.”
  • The child grinds his teeth.
  • The child walks on his toes for an extended period of time.
  • The child dislikes his hair being touched, combed, washed or cut.
  • The child finds visits to the doctor to be very hard.
  • Evaluations
  • Pediatricians may have some insight into this, or they may refer parents to an occupational therapist for an evaluation. With a referral, insurance plans are more likely to cover these visits.
  • For further checklists, see Carol Kranowitz’s book, The Out of Sync Child. RESOURCES FOR CORRECTION
  • The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities For Kids with Sensory Integration Dysfunction by Carol Kranowitz
  • Occupational therapy.
  • Nutritional therapy (very helpful).
  • Brain integration therapy.
  • Music therapy (as described under Auditory Processing Dysfunction).
  • Chiropractic services.


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