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Review Illinois Service Resource Center 847-559-0110 Voice/TTY 800-550-4772 Helpline (24 Hour) Email: isrc@interaccess.com Internet site: homepage.interaccess.com/~isrc

Winter 2003 Edition The Center on Deafness in Northbrook is the administrative agent for the Illinois Service Resource Center.

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Note from the Director:

What is Sensory Integration?

The ISRC has been providing technical assistance to educational teams and families for over nine years. Team members are seeing Sensory Integration Dysfunction in increasing numbers of the students we serve. Team member Jacki Marcus, M. Ed. had the opportunity to attend a workshop presented by Carol Kranowitz, a pioneer in the development of strategies for coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Jacki was the primary contributor to this edition of the ISRC newsletter. In this issue you will find a variety of information on Sensory Integration Dysfunction, including signs and symptoms, types of dysfunction and suggested activities. A list of resources for additional information is also provided. All materials are available through the ISRC library. The information in this newsletter is intended as a starting point, something to pique your interest, whet your appetite. With a goal in mind of improving the educational experience of the students we serve, each set of tools and strategies brings us closer to that goal. With a belief in access, acceptance and growth, Cheri Sinnott, LCSW ISRC Director

The concept of sensory integration comes from a body of work developed by A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., OTR. As an occupational therapist, Dr. Ayres was interested in the way in which sensory processing and motor planning disorders interfere with daily life function and learning. Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound and the pull of gravity. Each sense works with the others to form a composite picture of who we are physically, where we are, and what is going on around us. The process of the brain organizing and interpreting this information is called sensory integration. Sensory integration provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and behavior. For most children, sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. Motor planning ability is a natural outcome of the process, as is the ability to adapt to incoming sensations. But for some children, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When the process is disordered, a number of problems in learning, development or behavior may become evident. (Continued on Page 2)

In this Issue: Page 2 Page 3 Page 3 Page 4 ISRC- 1 -

Sensory Integration (continued) & Resource List Fundamental Sensory Systems Types of Dysfunction & Sensory Seeking Other Conditions Seen with Sensory Integration Dysfunction


What is Sensory Integration?

(continued from Page 1)

Research clearly identifies sensory integrative problems in children with developmental or learning difficulties. Independent studies show that a sensory integrative dysfunction can be found in some children who are considered learning disabled by schools (Daems, J. (1994). Reviews of Research in Sensory Integration. Torrance, CA: Sensory Integration International) Sensory integrative problems are found not only in children with learning disabilities. They are found in all age groups, as well as all socio-economic and intellectual groups. All of the following may contribute to sensory integration difficulties: • •

Premature birth- More and more premature infants survive today. They have fragile, easily overstimulated nervous systems and multiple medical complications. Autism and other developmental disorders- Severe difficulty with sensory processing is very evident in these children. Autistic children seek out unusual quantities of certain types of sensations and are extremely hypersensitive to other types. Learning Disabilities- Research indicates that a majority of LD children, although normal in intelligence, are likely to have sensory integrative problems. Early intervention can improve sensory integration in these children, minimizing the possibility of school failure before it occurs. Stress related disorders- Sensory integrative difficulties that appear in childhood often are not outgrown. Some adults are not able to perform optimally in the workplace, thus their stress levels build. Brain injury- Trauma to the brain from injuries or strokes can profoundly affect sensory functioning.

Helpful Websites: Sensory Integration International, 310-787-8805 www.sensoryint.com Sensory Integration Resource Center www.sinetwork.org Carol Kranowitz Workshops www.out-of-sync-child.com

ISRC Resource Library Books The Out -of -Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction by Carol Kranowitz The Out -of -Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Integration Dysfunction by Carol Kranowitz Answers to Questions Teachers Ask about Sensory Integration by Lynn Balzer-Martin, Stacey Szklut, et al. 101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces by Carol Kranowitz Sensory Integration and the Child, by A.J. Ayres Teaching Children with Autism: Strategies to Enhance Communication and Socialization by K.A. Quill

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Fundamental Sensory Systems Tactile –

Provides information, primarily through our skin, about the texture, shape and size of objects in the environment. It helps us distinguish between threatening and nonthreatening touch sensations.

Vestibular –

Provides information through the inner ear about gravity and space, about balance and movement, and about our head and body position in relation to the surface of the earth.

Proprioceptive -Provides information through our joints, muscles, and ligaments about where our body parts are and what they are doing.

Visual –

Provides information through our eyes about the size, shape, and 3-D aspects of what we are experiencing. Visual aspects will greatly affect visual-motor capabilities.

Types of Sensory Integration Dysfunction Sensory Detection Dysfunction – Problems with the conscious realization or unconscious awareness of sensation

Sensory Modulation Dysfunction – Problems in the capacity to regulate responses to sensory input in a graded and adaptive manner, disrupts an individual’s ability to adapt to challenges in daily life.

Sensory-Motor Coordination Dysfunction (Dyspraxia) – Problems with new motor activities and significant sensory difficulties, fine/gross motor impairments, poor tactile perception and proprioceptive processing.

Sensory Integration Dysfunction and Sensory Seeking Children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction may be under-responsive to sensation. As a result, they seek out more intense or longer duration, sensory experiences. Some behaviors that can be observed are: • Hyperactivity as they seek more and more movement input • Unawareness of touch or pain, or touching others too often or too hard (may seem aggressive) • Engaging in unsafe behaviors, such as climbing too high • Enjoying sounds that are too loud, such as TV or radio volume

Sensory Integration Dysfunction and Sensory Avoiding These children have nervous systems that feel sensation too easily or too much. They are overly responsive to sensation. As a result, they may have “fight or flight” responses to sensation, or “sensory defensiveness”. Some behaviors that can be observed are: Responding to being touched with aggression or withdrawal Afraid of, or becomes sick with, movement and heights Very cautious and unwilling to take risks or try new things Uncomfortable in loud or busy environments such as sports events, malls Very picky eater and/or overly sensitive to food smells ISRC- 3 -


Other Conditions That Are Often Seen In Conjunction With Sensory Integration Dysfunction AD/HD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, Down Syndrome, FAS, Fragile X, PDD and similar disorders Poor motor planning Allergies Poor eating habits Problems with digestion and elimination Sleep irregularities Difficulty with auditory and language processing Difficulty with visual-spatial processing Learning Disabilities Emotional insecurity, with a tentative hold on the sense of self-worth and belonging Poor registration of sensation **Current research has indicated that many young children (3-5 yrs. old) who are thought to exhibit signs of AD/HD are in fact exhibiting a sensory integration disorder. If intervention occurs, the inattention, restlessness and disorganization diminish. Carol Kranowitz has also found that if intervention does not occur at young ages, those children are more likely to develop learning disabilities. **

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ISRC Staff Cheri Sinnott Barbara Sims Jacki Marcus

Director Trainer Educational/Psychological Consultant Dr. Steve Vaupel Behavioral/Psychological Consultant Craig Vescelus Information Specialist Teresa Stoll Administrative Assistant


ISRC Winter 2003 Newsletter