The info from our OT
All people have some sensory issues to some extent. From not liking tags, to certain materials irritating you, to being to cold, to warm, liking movement, disliking movement etc.. but for most people we are able to handle these sensations without it inferfering with our lives.
But there are people out there who cannot handle these sensations and they send them overboard a bit, thus in children they can cause tantrums and other behavioral problems, as well as health issues, delays etc.. OT's typically only treat the sensory issues when like Meg above said they interfere with everyday life, like not bieng able to eat most foods, not liking things touching at all etc.. The OT worked with Alex told us she had worked with children who would physically become sick when certain types of fabric touched their skin etc..
While Alex had some sensory issues (he hates having his hair touched, including washing, combing, cutting, he also hates tags in clothes, sun or bright light in his eyes, and dislikes the texture of red meat, we also have some problems with some creamy textures as well) the OT felt his issues were not severe enough to need treatment. She thought some of them we disappear as he got older (which they have lessened so far.. we can now get him to wet his hair and brush it most of the time.. cutting and soap still very difficult issue). She instead spent most of her time working on his transitions from one activity to another, specifically from a well liked activity to a most hated one.
While sensory is also associated with Autism (quite frankly I think if you look hard enough almost everything seems associated with autsim) they are very prevelant in everyone. I, for example, hated getting my hair washed as a child, removed all the tags from my clothes, have problems with sunlight/bright light, and still to this day find socks and shoes rather uncomfertable. I dislike the feel of shoes and socks and take them off whenever I can. Other sensory issues I have is that I have issues dealing with heat. While I try to avoid these items, they do not disrupt my life (yes I do wear my shoes when I have to hehe) and really the dividing line is if you can operate despite the issues. Also, as you get older these issues tend to diminish some.
Some things they do to desensitize espeically for tantrums is a techinique called brushing, which they basically take a brush and stroke the child's skin. It is supposed to be extremely relaxing and we were going to use it on Alex, but he responded so well to just the OT she felt it wouldn't be necessary. Other things they also do is use weighted vests that the child wears. The weight is supposed to place pressure on the child and help to call them down.
Other techniques depend on the type of sensory issue the child has (certain fabrics, textures, etc..)
If you just want to read about it the book I think our ped recommended was The out of sync child. I have not had a chance ot read it with all the other reading I have to do (along with a few other books recommended to me) but I have heard it is a good book.
One other thing to remember is that SI (sensory integration) is not accepted by some of the medical field as an actual disorder because so many normal people also have the same issues. The real difference you will see is how disruptive these can be in their lives.
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Missouri State Coordinator
Mommy to Alex (4)and Mason (1 1/2)
Law Student - 1 year done, 2 to go