Areas of Concern

Your child should now have an understanding of how her senses work, how they work together, and what things influence the way her brain makes a picture from that information. When she has a solid understanding of these aspects of brain function, she has a basic understanding of sensory integration.

When all the senses work just right and work together well and the picture is clear and reliable, good sensory integration has been achieved, and your child feels confident and successful. When some senses are giving too much information or not enough information, and the senses aren't able to work successfully together, the picture becomes fuzzy and unreliable. This is called sensory integration disorder.

Make sure your child knows that this is not something bad that she's done or an excuse for doing whatever she wants. It's just some words people use to describe the way the brain misinterprets information from the senses. Having a name for something makes it less scary and helps you do something about it. It makes it easier to find other people who have the same problem and get ideas of ways to adjust the picture and make things better.

Now is the time to talk to your child about the things that really concern you and those that have been causing her real difficulty. If she can't stop moving, talk about how you see that causing problems for her at home and at school, and explain that she may be doing it to get more information from her vestibular and proprioceptive senses.

If she has trouble getting organized and following instructions, talk about motor planning and what pieces of sensory information might be missing to make that difficult. If she's often accused of not listening, talk about whether she doesn't get useful information from her auditory sense or whether a lack of movement might make her less alert. Work with your child to come up with sensory explanations for behavior that has been causing trouble. It may be a relief for her to know that she's not just a bad person.

Make sure your child knows that the sensory explanation for her behavior doesn't make that behavior okay. But it does offer a way to make adjustments and change the behavior in a way that's comfortable for your child. Your child may not have known why he acts the way he does, and he might have thought there was no other way to act. The reactions to others may have confused or enraged him and made it more difficult to calm down and behave.

Your discussions and introduction of the topic of sensory integration will most likely reduce some of the stress your child has been feeling, and that alone will help with control and confidence. The strategies for helping your child manage his own sensory integration needs will do even more to improve his self-image and self-control.

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