Sensory integration, tell me about your experinces

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jessica mom of 2, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. Jessica mom of 2

    Jessica mom of 2 New Member

    Sensory integration disorder...

    I know very little about it. I know that it effects your senses in different ways. When it comes to smell, can it be that your child has a hard time smelling things or that he/she may smell very well? Our daughter has always been able to smell things very easily a mile away! She has a good Sniffer! lol...

    I know that she has a problem with touch. She has lots of issues with her clothes, shoes, socks etc. All clothes at one point in time have bothered her; she may like this shirt today but tomorrow she will not wear it because it bothers her. Pants too long or too short, short sleeves, long sleeves, socks and there seams, shoes is a big thing too! So this year since school has started she only has one pair of shoes to wear to school. That way we eliminated the whole issue of having to pick which shoe was best for that day.

    Hearing, loud things have always bothered her! Fireworks for sure! Whoever invented potties to flush on there own, I would love to confront them and tell them what they have put my daughter through out in public! ha ha ha...noises have always been a big deal as well.

    I would like to hear some of your thoughts about sensory integration. What have you experinced?

  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    difficult child covers her ears for loud noises and kind of hunches down. It doesn't have to be very loud...opening the garage door, for example. She also can't tune out sounds and will focus on other things, such as kids tapping their pencils in class, to the extent that she can't focus on anything else. I've never been sure if that's sensory related or more of an auditory processing issue.

    Clothing is another issue. Shopping is a huge deal. We take about 20 things into the dressing room and only end purchasing a couple. Some things she'll wear, but then they feel different after being washed a couple of times and she won't wear them anymore. I've started drying everything on delicate because that tends to have the least effect on the material. I've also attributed it to certain detergent and fabric softener, so I always buy the same kind. Low rise jeans have been horrible because finding anything else is next to impossible and difficult child *hates* the way they feel. Same thing as you with sock seams and shoes.

    Food texture is another. I actually share that trait with her. There are foods that we won't eat, not because of the flavor, but because of the texture, although those foods are different for each of us.

    She is also sensitive to smells. Strong smells really bother her and will make her feel ill.

    Temperature is another thing I've noticed. She has a very small window where she is comfortable...she's either too hot or too cold, but she's usually too hot.

    Just a few things off the top of my head.
  3. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Both of my girls are diagnosis'd with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) or sensory processing disorder (SPD) here are a couple of links to some great sites...

    For us Occupational Therapist (OT) has helped alot. Slowly getting the girls used to the things they fear, have a hard time with... for example the noises... coffee grinder would send them into a frenzy... I let them try it slowly... over months. it is not so bad. They have control over it. I let them know they have an escape from noises or sites... come in the house, ask for help etc. To help them feel like they have control.

    We have swings in the house, which help them calm their "engines", therapy balls to lay on, bounce on, so many things to do for their up's and down's,
    We do lots of "hard work", sweeping, carrying, heavy work....
    Headphones for noise, a weighted blanket for help with sleep, sound machine to help calm, lavender at night for calming smells... low lights.
    We have hand works, things for them to hold to help distract them, squishy balls etc.
    There are so many things to help with sensory issues that also help with other issues as well!!!

    My girls have taste. smell, sight, sound, touch issues!!! Everything you can think of!!!
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Like many children with Autistic tendencies, mine does have sensory issues. They are much better now that we understand what he's going through and have made adaptations in his life. Occupational Therapist (OT) helped a lot, but the real benefit here was learning the ropes and bringing it home. We have a mini gym set up in our basement with a therapy swing for swinging and spinning as well as some other equipment.

    Once we got our foot through the doors of understanding and therapy what I discovered is that sensory ebbed and flowed with his other issues. When anxiety was high, sensory was exacerbated. When sensory was high, anxiety increased...and so forth.

    Left untreated this can cause MAJOR problems in a child's life. Mine went into sensory overload at one point (odors, especially foods) and the hysteria that resulted everytime he was assaulted with what to us were normal foods was a sad sight to see. I literally wound up removing all possible offending odors from the house, especially by doing the worst of the cooking odors outside on the grill or in a crockpot. It was a very long road back from "safe" odors to being able to cope in the world again. I would encourage you to take this one very seriously as the Occupational Therapist (OT) that worked with us told us that they usually don't fully develop out of problems in the olfactory system.

    Things that have helped the most--
    1) Respecting the differences. I'm not too keen on the narrow diet but I also know from pregnancy what it's like to want to heave at the sight of certain foods. Can't imagine going through life feeling that way but that's what it's like for him.

    Ditto with other areas--some kids have a high need for physical contact while others don't. It's hard not to want to project our own wants/needs on them and respect their own needs.

    2) Sameness--when I found something that worked, I bought multiples. For a number of years all socks were identical in style and color. One pair of tennis shoes, with a duplicate for church and special occasions. 6 pair of the pants that are the easiest for him, etc. Layering sweatshirts with a fleece for winter instead of forcing a winter coat. Land's End and Gymboree were my best sources for soft clothing with gentle waistbands.

    Another techinique is to find clothing they can wear underneath so it always feels the same on their skin and then vary what goes outside. My difficult child wears thin nylon shorts beneath pants and the same style of shorts in the summer--it minimizes the change. One mom here found thin leotards for her daughter which helped her to change what was worn outside but feel the same inside.

    3) Making adaptations when needed. Until this year my difficult child has started the school day in the quiet classroom on days when everyone lines up in the gym. It makes a huge difference to start in quiet as opposed to sensory overload.
  5. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    In the end I found that sensory, anxiety, and rigid thinking were so tightly woven together that there were times I couldn't determine which one (or which combination) was giving him problems at a given time. For instance, he always had trouble with large rooms, especially when filled with noise and people. Years later sensory has quieted down tremendously, but resistance is still there when we go to places like museums. I never can tell if it's sensory still at work, anxiety because of the memory of the sensory assault in the past, and/or rigid thinking (issues in the past but he's so used to digging in and resisting that it's become the norm). I don't think I'll ever really know so it's important to treat across the board and consider all possibilities.
  7. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Ditto to what SRL posted!!!
  8. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    For my daughter, the very worst thing is the sensory overload of having too much commotion going on around her at once. It really is a sensory overload, and a recipe for an instant meltdown.

    The other big one is brushing her hair. The neighbors think I am torturing her by how she screams. Same goes for cutting her nails.

    She has the same food texture problems, and for that reason there are only about 10 things on the world that she will eat. Food smells bother her too. If I cook with garlic, she won't come in the house.

    As far as motion goes, she craves it. She spins till she is almost throw-up-dizzy. She also has been known to bang her head (not real hard, but still) and chew her hair.

    Sound is a funny one. There are some sounds that I brace myself because I think that she is going to freak, and then she is just fine with them (thunder, fireworks, screaming for 20 minutes straight) but if we go under a viaduct at the same time a train is going overhead, she flips. It is more the timbre of the noise than the volume.

    Most clothes don't bother her. She HATES elastic in her shirts. Anything around the waist or wrists has to be removed. And socks and shoes...form the time she was able to do it herself, she has taken off her socks. She craves being barefoot. When she walks in the house, the first thing she does is take shoes & socks off.

    Like SRL mentioned, Tink has some rigid thinking, but for my kid it is not a whole lot. It is more stubborn, "I want it my way" as opposed to thinking that "this is the only way that it will work". She has a little anxiety (again, not a lot) but I agree that it is all intermeshed.

    I know that after having read the book "The Out of Sync Child" (the author escapes me at the moment), I had a better understanding of the disorder.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My son and I both have Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) (I also have bipolar and he is on the spectrum). Our sense of smell is amazing. We can both smell odors three rooms away (no exaggeration). We are both sensitive to loud noise. He has issues with fabrics and food textures. As my son is getting older, his issues seem a little better, but he's had a slew of interventions. He can go to movies now. He used to just cover his ears and go in the lobby because it was "too loud." I would have your daughter evaluated completely by a neuropsychologist to see, in more precise detail, what is going on with her. Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) has many main diagnosis. triggers. If Adderrall or stims don't help her, maybe she doesn't have ADHD, even if she's hyper.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    In Australia they don't generally diagnose Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) as a distinct disorder. Other things, too, like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - they will give the label if it's a stand-alone condition but if you have autism they simply say, "As part of the autism package he's got sensory sensitivities, he is very obsessive and ritualistic and he will be easily distracted by the need for sameness as well as any sensory stimulation in his environment."

    But when it all boils down - all three of my younger kids fit the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) labels, as part of their autism/tendencies.

    Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) - they are all different. difficult child 1 was very fussy about labels in his shirts, and seams. The school uniform for our primary school kids (up to about 11 years old) is much the same around the country - grey shorts (or grey flannel trousers in winter)and blue cotton shirt. The labels inside the shirts used to really annoy difficult child 1 so I had to unpick them. Simply cutting them out was no good - the remaining edge stuck in the seam would still scratch. Some shirt labels were OK - where the label was made from printed plain cotton, it didn't bother him. But those brocade ones were the problem - the label is woven, not printed.
    Seams - french seams were always best. Ordinary seams stitched and overlocked - not bad if they were stitched in cotton but some polyester threads are scratchy when used to overlock and he would refuse to wear those shirts. Nothing I could do. So I learnt what shirt brands to avoid.

    Because difficult child 1 was so rough on clothes, I often bought his second hand. This meant they were always pre-washed, so we didn't have a problem with a shirt being acceptable to begin with, and then not being worn later. In general though, the kids have preferred the softer feel as the clothes get worn and the fabric treatment given to new clothes washes out.

    Trousers - difficult child 1 would wear through his school trousers in a matter of hours, so I would patch them with vinyl. It looked awful but it stopped them falling apart. The inner city school he later transferred to had t-shirts and jeans as school uniform - the denim didn't wear out like the grey flannel did. And t-shirts made of stretch cotton were much more practical as well as more comfortable for him.

    easy child 2/difficult child 2 and even easy child were shocking when it came to the feel of clothes. easy child 2/difficult child 2 is especially bad - a fabric has to have just the right feel or she won't wear it. So not only is there the fashion side of it, the outfit has to feel acceptable too.

    She also had a fetish - only word for it - for fur fabric. She covered it up by carrying a teddy bear where she could, and by making a fur fabric cover for her school folder, which she then carried everywhere. She claimed she carried her folder instead of putting it in her backpack, because the folder was too big - but she had deliberately chosen a big folder so she WOULD have the excuse to carry it and cuddle her fur cover.

    Food - textures are important for easy child 2/difficult child 2 and difficult child 3. No problem for difficult child 1. But the younger two - she doesn't like anything with "bits" in it, he won't have anything with a creamy texture. Tonight we had two Asian jelly desserts for him to try - mango jelly and coconut jelly. He eats jelly, but these were made differently and were not translucent, but opaque. For him, it was too close to creamy and he couldn't tolerate them. And yet he will eat ice cream! But then, it is solid when he eats it.

    Sounds - both boys are highly sensitive to sudden loud noises, thunder excepted. Shrill noises are the worst for both, especially difficult child 3. The younger two both have very good pitch (close to perfect) and are very sensitive to anything being off key. difficult child 3 especially. I'm not a lot better - I hate to hear a guitar being tuned (especially if it's being tuned badly).

    Light - difficult child 3 was obsessed with the flicker of light through the leaves on the trees. We noticed this first when he was a week old. Really bright lights upset difficult child 1. There does not seem to be a sensitivity to colour.
    Vision in general - all three younger kids are highly distracted by the range of visual stimuli in their environment. Too much stimulation means choices have to be made, as to what to pay attention to and what to ignore. difficult child 3 copes best; the other two have a hard time. easy child 2/difficult child 2 is worse here - she has a hard time making decisions, even ones like, "I don't know whether to have chocolate cake or strawberry cake." She can actually have a meltdown because SHE can't make a choice and wants someone else to choose for her!

    With physical sensation/touch, both boys like to feel pressure - we bought difficult child 3 a "hug vest" (named by easy child 2/difficult child 2). It is a weighted vest with weights made of long thin sandbags which can be moved and removed to vary the weight. It was made out of calico with french seams and can be worn under regular clothes, or over the top.
    easy child 2/difficult child 2 has taken to wearing corsets. Not just the fashionable ones not really made for tight lacing, just made to look good; no, she has gone to a specialist costume reproduction place and bought fully boned, solidly made reproduction Victorian corsets. She wears these under or over her regular clothing. They are made from more fashionable modern fabrics such as velvet, but are very sturdy. I've told her she's got to lace herself, not to get someone else to lace her. This way there is a limit on how tight they are laced. She says it's "like wearing a hug". She used to wear the corset under hr work uniform when she worked in the bakery - even having to squat down to reach the lowest shelves, she would do the graceful bunny duck because the corset did not permit her to bend at the waist. She stopped wearing her corsets when she had her appendix out a year ago, but is getting back to wearing them again.

    Something I've realised - first, you need to accommodate the sensory stuff and not try to force them out of it. However, you can still insist on small tests of exposure to other things to broaden their experiences, as long as they know they can go back to what they feel safe with.
    And also, they are amazingly inventive when it comes to meeting their own needs in this. For example, easy child 2/difficult child 2 tracking down where in Sydney she could buy reproduction corsets.

    Life is never dull in our house!

  11. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    difficult child's sensory issues have continued to improve. For instance, he no longer wears his socks inside out to avoid the touch from the toe seams.

    When he's in a downward spiral, however, many of the Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) issues resurface.
  12. Sharon1974

    Sharon1974 New Member

    I can definity relate to Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) problems. JK can only wear socks from Sears (TKS basics). The day I found them was a Godsend. We spend hours in the shoestore trying to find 1 pair of shoes that fit. If we ever find 2 in one trip it would be a miracle. He will vomit from the "terrible smell" that I don't notice. If the kid ever gets hurt - don't touch him!!! He will think you are attacking him.

    The only advice I can give is . . . . be patient. More patient then you ever thought you could be. That and find a great Occupational Therapist (OT). The difference Occupational Therapist (OT) can make is amazing!
  13. Jessica mom of 2

    Jessica mom of 2 New Member

    what exactly can Occupational Therapist (OT) do to help children with sensory issues? I wonder what they do different that we can't do? Just curious really.

    She freaks out about her seams in her socks. She will find a problem with the seam even if its so doggone straight it couldn't be any straighter. We tried turning them inside out, and we tried no seams socks, of course she said those were wierd and they bother her. Who knows? The only thing I have found that actually has worked a little is this...she has one pair of shoes that she can wear to school. Her tennis shoes, and she has wore those everyday since school started. Last year we had meltdowns every morning before school and she would spend about 20-30 mins to put shoes on. So now she only 1 pair of shoes and so there is nothing to decipher over. She has church shoes but I have told her those are only for church. So that has really cut down on her morning meltdowns. Last year she had gotten some black boots from her grandma and she had some slide on shoes and tennis shoes...tooooo many choices!

    Thanks Jessica
  14. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Just this past year we discovered Merrell shoes and I wished that I'd found them years ago--sure would have saved a lot of headaches around here!

    difficult child had a pair of the suede look slide in mocs last year
  15. Sharon1974

    Sharon1974 New Member

    JK received Occupational Therapist (OT) for his Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) issues. I guess it sort of desensitizes them to certain problematic sensory problems. There was a time JK ate almost nothing. Now he still has a peculiar diet - but eats a much wider variety of food. We had many morning meltdowns over socks and shoes. Not so many anymore (although finding the perfect sock was a big help). He has learned to verbalize what is bothering him (this was more from psychiatric councelling) and problem solve ways to make it better. A good Occupational Therapist (OT) will teach you some therapy to do with your child at home (sometimes called a sensory diet) and make recommendations regarding assistive devices. (Such as weighted blankets, brushing, and things like that).
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    My kids all have some degree of sensory issues. IF I had known about it with difficult child we would have all been better off.

    Occupational Therapist (OT) for sensory issues often consists of teaching brushing to parents, along with gentle joint compression to follow it. DON'T do this unless you have been taught how. The brushing actually helps the body/brain begin to learn to handle sensory input more appropriately. It made huge changes for my thank you. Jess loves it too.

    The Occupational Therapist (OT) we saw was too far away to effectively help us, so we spent over a year getting the school to provide Occupational Therapist (OT) services.s So far he has drawn 2 pictures for the Occupational Therapist (OT). I am SOOOOO not impressed, but will have to deal with this later. I can brush him at home, school is very unwilling.

    I grew up with my own sensory wierdness. I am a food-texture person. I do not eat mushrooms, not because the taste (not a fav, but OK if it is there) but because the texture - styrofoam when raw, slimy when cooked. ICK.

    difficult child would vomit over most tomato including foods. Same for many others. thank you had food allergies/sensitivities, so his diet was strange from the get-go. Jess was my eat most anything girl, but I see sensory issues with taste popping up in her over the last 4 years.

    Touching certain things jsut wasn't done by either of my boys. No mud playing. AT ALL. I can still remember the day my aunt told me there was something terriblyWRONG with difficult child. She had been watching him. Her son is just 6 mos older than mine. She made a mixture of cornstarch and water (makes a goo with interesting properties). Her kids were playing with it, getting their hands all covered in it. My son touched it with a finger and then went and got a spoon to mess with it. He just could NOT handle the touch. But he knew that she really wanted him to play with it. I thought he did a great job of coping, but she thought he was surely missing some vital part of something. It was rather funny to me, then and now.

    thank you cannot handle really loud noises. One church we went to had an odd sound system, volume would suddenly go upfor a few seconds then go down, with no relationship to what was going on. Drove poor thank you to tears. The church we now attend understands and tolerates that thank you may go into one of the rooms in the fellowship hall during the service. The organis on the balcony and used to REALLY be hard for him to tolerate.

    By thank you (3rd kid) I was so used to kids that were not the norm that I really didn't think much about the ways that he needed accomodation. They ust seemed natural. Didn't all kids have horrible reactions to loud places? Hate certain smells/tastes/textures in foods to the point of vomiting? Like some movements but not others?

    Anyway, The Out fo Sync Child by Kranowitz is great, and The Out of Synch Child Has Fun is even better. The out of sync child is also avail on video, which makes it easier to explain to some teachers.


  17. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I am a sock snob.

    I have to have a certain type of sock or they can't be worn. I have bought countless pairs and end up giving them away. Woe be unto the person who borrows a pair of my socks. I can't ever wear them again. I've tried, it makes me gag.

    And then there are food issues. If I am to eat I can't think or ponder too long about the source, how it was cooked was the area clean were the hands washed that put the water in the pot etc.

    As far as smell? My family wants to rent me out to the airports as they truly believe I could smell dope packed in a coffee can. I really do have an unusually heightened sense of smell which is a blessing (to find things) and a curse (finding things I'd rather not smell - men, women who haven't taken a shower, kids who don't have a diaper changed) it's nasty then. And to smell food? I love BBQ, but can rarely eat it. It's like I smell wet dog and then my lunch consists of hush puppies and french fries if my brain will stop going "Yes, but who TOUCHED those fries?"

    I have issues with clothing too, sometimes changing 4 or 5 times in a morning just to get the right feel. I've always done that. Sometimes trying on my stuff at night helps, but not always.

    And sounds? OH bother. If I could hear like I smelled I wouldn't ever need a hearing aid, but it seems that loud noises and anything that is sudden will put me over the top. I usually put my hands over my ears. If you think it's funny to sneak up on me and yell BOO, guess again with your teeth in your hands - and to wake me up? Don't ever stand over me. I come up swinging if startled. This could be from my abusive marriage or just being what my family calls a little weirdo.

    Sometimes the sensory problem gets so bad even my eyebrows bother me. It's just weird. And this started from a very young age. My mother could sit me on a blanket in the yard with bare feet and I'd never wander. The feel of grass on my feet made me cry.

    There is help - and I'm not plugging any therapy here, but EMDR therapy helped me a TON. The noises don't bother me as much and while I still have a keen sense of smell I seem to be able to overcome my brain when it comes to dinner choices. EMDR is awesome for PTSD and SIDS. I even....(dare I say it) purchased socks off the rack yesterday and wore a pair without peeling them off.

    I was tested for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and do have some of the 'behaviors' but I'm not. And I will say (but do NOT advocate PaxilCR) when I was on it? I couldn't smell stuff like I can without it. IT was according to my DF - a very nice time without having to hear about WHAT smells or seeing me gag.
  18. tired Cheryl

    tired Cheryl New Member


    difficult child has not been officially diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) but we do have referral to Occupational Therapist (OT) and this has been on my "to do list for months" but his other issues (seizures and behavior) have taken priority.

    Noise makes him more irritable than he usually is. I share this trait and when husband is home I have to walk around our house wearing ear plugs covered by the ear protectors that they use for shooting practice in order to tolerate the constant TV noise that he seems to thrive on.
    At work, I can hear a dog barking several rooms down-I will complain and my colleagues will swear they didn't hear anything until I said something.

    At one of the preschools difficult child attended they would take him to the library in the am when the other kids were arriving. He just could not handle the extra noise and activity. This technique helped him a lot.

    One day while his father was slicing him some apples, he yelled "Stop that noise!" We were both taken aback and knew then that he had a real problem.

    His sense of smell is very keenj. It drives my mother in law nuts that she cannot have a piece of candy or gum in her mouth without difficult child smelling it instantly. He is always complaining about smells.
    On his first day of therapy he told the therapist that the room smelled "chickeny." I am guessing that he smelled someone's lunch down the hall. I am extremely sensitive to smell too. I cannot stand perfume (poor me) and cigarette odors make me insane. If I am at a stoplight and the person next to me is smoking in their car, I feel panicked. Even if both of our windows are rolled up the smell is overwhelming and I feel trapped in by the red light and other cars.

    The hardest part for me to deal with is his fascination with things that stink (the dog's rear end, sweaty feet, etc) He will want to smell them over and over. It can be very embarassing. Luckily, it does not happen every day.

    Also, he has a real problem wearing clothes although I am not sure how this fits it. He does not complain about sock seams or tags-just wearing clothes in general. he has taken his clothes off in public so many times. He was asked not to return to the church nursery for this reason. But many times when he is having a meltdown he will scream, "Fine! Then I am taking off my clothes!" Maybe that is a reaction to his past experiences? Sensory overload?
    He is very particular about what he wears. All shorts or pants must have belt loops, stuff like that. He will change three or four times per day. Is this his ODD or Sensory Integration Disorder (SID)???