Sensory integration as a treatment for child developmental disorders
The impairment of sensory information processing is called sensory integration dysfunction. Many parents do not even suspect that their child has such a problem. They consider deviations in behavior to be common whims. In fact, this is a real diagnosis, which very often remains hidden. An example of impaired sensory integration is intolerance to loud noise or strong odors, refusal to wear "prickly" things, etc. It is possible to cope with the problem, but the approach must be correct.
- The importance of sensory integration for the proper development of the child
- Diagnosis of sensory integration disorders
- Therapy for sensory integration disorders
The importance of sensory integration for the proper development of the child
The nervous system can be compared to an electrical circuit. In order for it to function correctly, quality work of all its sections is necessary. If some link does not withstand the voltage, or provides increased resistance, a "short circuit" may occur. This simple example helps you understand how the nervous system works.
The brain receives signals from the external environment and from internal organs every second. Moreover, he begins to work even when the child is in the womb. After the birth of a baby, his activity intensifies.
If the child is healthy, then he begins to know the world through sensory perception. His hands help him in this. He touches objects, tries to "taste the world." In such a situation, problems with the development of motor skills and speech do not arise.
If the brain or its branches have been damaged, for example, due to oxygen deprivation of the fetus, then the processing of sensory information will be impaired. A similar situation is observed when a child is brought up in poor conditions, when he is deprived of the opportunity to satisfy his basic psychophysiological and social needs.
Correct sensory integration is important for health, for the formation of mental abilities, mastering communication skills, everyday skills.
Svetlana Kashirina, Sensory Integration Specialist, comments:
A person receives all information through the senses. By the age of 7 years, the child develops and improves sensory integration. Thanks to its development, he learns the skills of correct behavior, learns to react to external events, and receives the knowledge he needs.
Sensory integration is the process of transmitting sensory signals. This allows the brain to control body responses, emotions, and behavior.
With dysfunction of sensory integration, signals arriving to the brain from different sources are not transformed into an adequate response. The child does not give a normal behavioral response. Some children become hyperexcited, while others, on the contrary, avoid any sensory stimuli.
The sooner the problem is identified, the better. This will prevent serious problems in the development of the baby.
- Lack of self-control.
- Low self-esteem.
- Lack of social interaction skills.
- Emotional disorders, etc.
Diagnosis of sensory integration disorders
Even one single violation can cause serious problems. It is enough to imagine how difficult it is for a child to concentrate on what the teacher says when the birds chirp cheerfully outside the window and the T-shirt irritates the skin. Or maybe he wants to hide from the bright light in the classroom or cover his ears so as not to hear the rumble of voices. An adult can control his actions. The behavior of the child in this regard is different. He gives a "here and now" reaction.
On the other hand, not every refusal to wear a sweater or fish soup should be construed as impaired sensory integration. A specialist should be engaged in diagnostics. Minor deviations can go away on their own with age. There is evidence that every sixth child has "whims" are the result of disturbances in the functioning of sensory systems. Sometimes this greatly interferes with development.
The following markers help detect the problem:
- Disturbances in the integration of auditory information: fear of loud sound, intolerance to music, confusion when entering a noisy place. Children with such problems may cover their ears with their hands when the noise increases, will remain in the classroom during recess, etc.
Violations of the integration of visual information: love for twilight or darkness, increased anxiety in bright light, tension when trying to look at the objects and objects around the child. The kid will express clear negativity when it is necessary to overcome obstacles.
- Disorders of tactile perception: the child does not like to do modeling and drawing, he does not like to be touched. Children refuse to wear certain fabrics or certain styles of clothing, such as turtlenecks. They do not walk barefoot, but at the same time they react poorly to pain and temperature stimuli.
- Disorders in the work of the vestibular system: the child is clumsy, awkward, does not like active games, cannot learn to ride a bicycle or skate, often falls, all the time looking for support.
The main symptom of impaired sensory integration is difficulty concentrating. It will be especially difficult for a child in those situations when stimuli come from outside that affect the problem area. Such children often change the type of activity, they are restless, anxious, their behavior is affective. They are prone to hysteria, whims, aggression, loud laughter, which can turn into sobs, etc.
Expert Svetlana Kashirina comments:
Parents know their children better than other people. However, they can not only exaggerate, but also underestimate the scale of the problem.
Children often show clear signs of several subtypes of sensory impairments. For example, the tactile system is characterized by increased sensitivity, while the proprioceptive system is characterized by low sensitivity. Such disorders are called combined. Only a professional psychologist, physiotherapist, clinical psychologist or other specialist trained in sensory integration can detect them.
To make a diagnosis, the child needs to be examined. In addition to collecting anamnesis, special tests are conducted, parents are interviewed. Only then can a conclusion be drawn.
A comprehensive assessment involves the implementation of three stages:
Testing: SIPT (test of sensory-integrative and motor abilities) and BOT-2. The standard test contains 17 subtests. The study evaluates the performance of the visual, tactile and motor spheres. It is quite long in time and takes several hours. Testing alone is not enough to make a definitive diagnosis. It is carried out in order to obtain additional information.
- Patient monitoring. The specialist observes the child's behavior in his usual conditions and in the sensory movement room.
- Interviewing parents. For this, specialized questionnaires are used.
After the diagnosis, the specialist draws up a sensory profile of the patient. This will make it possible to determine a further action plan to correct the existing violations.
Therapy for sensory integration disorders
It has been proven that children with autism suffer from sensory impairments in 90% of cases. Therefore, they react in a peculiar way to external stimuli. At the same time, not all patients with sensory integration dysfunction are autistic. Sometimes these violations are so pronounced that experts make an incorrect diagnosis. Therefore, the diagnosis must be thorough. Only then can treatment begin. A well-designed therapeutic scheme will improve the child's condition, including with some other diagnoses.
Correction of sensory integration is required for children with scoliosis, phobias, panic attacks, impaired speech development, coordination of movements, and difficulties in writing.
Other indications include:
- Muscle contractures.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Previous operations, injuries and fractures. Treatment is carried out during the recovery period.
- Down Syndrome.
- Autism, etc.
For each patient, exercises are selected that will help him to better perceive information. These exercises are called sequences. They are held in a playful way. Rocking chairs and dry pools familiar to every child help with exercise. For example, the child is offered to find some objects in the pool or to transfer a toy from one box to another, while swinging in a hammock.
The result of the therapy will be the harmonious development of the baby. He will more quickly and easily cope with the existing difficulties in the perception of the world around him.
Expert Svetlana Kashirina comments:
The specialist should encourage the child to perform certain actions, but this should be done as naturally as possible. The patient should enjoy the exercise. This is the best motivation for striving to develop and improve your new skills.
It is important to teach the child to adequately respond to their feelings. He must learn to control his own emotions and behavior. The therapy focuses on all sensory areas.
Conditions for conducting classes:
Safety. It is important that the equipment and the space itself do not pose even a minimal threat to the child. He must be able to move freely. Often during therapy, complex physical activity, exercise and other activities are required. Therefore, the room must have mats, pillows, linings. A specialist should not be distracted for a second. He needs to be ready at any time to pick up the child, help him to take the correct position, exclude dangerous movements, etc.
- Therapy through play. In the game, the child must be a leader and an active participant. This helps to improve sensory systems, develops self-control skills. The patient learns to interact with other people and behave correctly.
- Session duration. The average duration of a lesson is 30-60 minutes. They are held 3 times a week. Throughout the lesson, the child should be involved in the activity. Only in this way will he learn to control his emotions and behavior. Frequent and regular exercise can help you cope with the problem faster. To monitor the effectiveness of treatment, intermediate and final tests are carried out.
Therapy for sensory integration disorders can be complemented by speech therapy and hearing exercises.