sensory integration issues and school


The article makes note of this common problem with-children who have learning disablilities. It's also fairly common to accompany disorders such as Asperger's, autism, ADHD, etc.

"Sensory Integration difficulties are common among children with learning disabilities. Often they cannot integrate extraneous visual, auditory, or tactile input well, becoming distracted, irritated, or confused by the excess sensory input. Sensory integration difficulties also cause a child to be very sensitive to fabrics' texture, light levels, comfort of their seat, etc. Having a child with sensory issues can be difficult to cope with when the child becomes overwhelmed.

Public School environments can cause sensory overload rapidly with all of the noise, expectations, and colorful, active environment. A child who has outbursts, seemingly for "no reason", may be experiencing sensory overload. As small children, those with sensory integration issues may have frequent meltdowns and will find changes in routines or locations difficult to deal with.

Sensory Integration is addressed through Occupational Therapy. Like Speech-Language therapy, sensory therapy is best provided by a professional therapist. Read the pros and cons of using private services versus public school services on the page addressing speech-lanuage issues. The recommendations will be the same, although it is more difficult to get Occupational Therapy services through the public school and it is more likely to be a battle than getting speech-language services would be.

Therapy for Sensory Integration includes providing the child with a "Sensory Diet" to build her tolerance for auditory, visual, movement, and tactile inputs. Children in therapy use swings, weighted jackets, rubbing or massaging, etc to provide sensory stimulation which the child's nervous system can begin to integrate. Therapy must be provided at incremental levels, with care and concern for the child's overload point, and must be done on a consistent, progressive basis.

Once a therapy program is established, many of the therapies can be done at home by the teaching parent. It is likely that homeschooling will help a child with sensory integration issues to a large degree because their environment can be controlled better. The calmer, more nurturing environment, will allow the child to concentrate on academics. The child will be less likely to loose instructional time due to sensory overload that interrupts her ability to concentrate, cope, or even to maintain composure. Additionally, if a child gets overloaded at home and has a meltdown, there is no social stigma, nor interruption for anyone else. This factor alone can help the child feel more confident and better able to cope.

If your child has sensory integration issues, they can probably be successfully addressed. Seeking services through your local Children's Hospital is highly recommended.

Take heart! My personal opinion is these children grow up to be more sensitive, caring and nurturing than most!"


Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Thanks for the interesting read. My son does recieve o.t. during the school year. They use several of the ideas you mention-weighted blankets, massage, among others. They feel it really helps him at school. We have tried to integrate some of this at home but is often resistant.


Active Member
Interesting article. I've seen a HUGE difference in difficult child 2 since we started homeschooling. Less visual & auditory input bombarding him all day, less transitions throughout the day. That, and his Occupational Therapist (OT) are the two biggest things I can point to that have helped with his meltdowns, besides medications.

For us, letting him pick (within a certain timeframe) when he does his schoolwork and what subjects he wants to work on first has given him the ability to learn his own limits. He's more aware of himself and how his environment is affecting him, which is a BIG help in getting him to be more proactive when it comes to his ability to self-regulate. If there's too much going on around him, or if something is causing him anxiety, he'll stop and go do something else until he can regroup. No way he'd get that in a public school environment.
This is just the info I needed to share with the parents of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)/Bipolar child I'm working with -THANKS! /importthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif


Active Member
difficult child has had many rounds of Occupational Therapist (OT) for sensory issues since he was 7. What has helped the most is to put him in a very small classroom. He was overwhelmed in a class of 28 kids, but doing well in a class of 7 kids. I don't think all the Occupational Therapist (OT) in the world would allow him to tolerate the noise and commotion of a large classroom.



Our son's sensory integration therapy was very beneficial. It wasn't a "cure," but he made good progress.

A good resource for sensory issues is "The Out-of-Sync Child" by Kranowitz. It's written in lay language.

difficult child also received occupational therapy for fine and gross motor skill delays with-good results.

For those that may not be aware, occupational therapy and sensory integration therapy are not the same thing. Occupational therapists need additional training in SI therapy. A pediatric occupational therapist also certified in SIPT testing is most likely to yield the professional expertise needed for evaluation and treatment purposes in my humble opinion.