What Is Sensory Integration Disorder in Children? - Treatment, Symptoms & Definition

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

It is estimated that the lives of 1 in 20 children are affected daily by sensory integration disorder. Learn more about sensory integration disorder, its symptoms, how it is treated, and more.


When you think about the senses, what comes to mind? If you are like most people, you think of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. We usually think of our five senses as separate things, when, in fact, they work together to help us make sense of our world.

For example, let's say that you had to cross the street. You use your sight to look at the crosswalk sign so that you know when to go. You also use your hearing to judge if there are any cars coming. Your sense of touch and hearing let you know when your feet are safely on the ground as you take each step.

Sensory integration is the process by which we are able to take in information from our senses, organize the information using the brain, and use the information effectively. Without the use of our senses, we would not know where we are, if we are safe, or what is happening around us. We would not be aware of our bodies or our surroundings.

Sensory integration is automatic for most people. Our brain takes in the sensory information and organizes it, and we respond without giving it much thought. We all have experienced those moments where we have brushed our teeth and washed our face without giving too much thought to what or how we were doing it. Another automatic response is when we jump at loud sounds.

Sensory integration disorder, also known as sensory processing disorder and sensory integration dysfunction, is a condition in which people have trouble receiving, organizing, and acting upon sensory information. It is difficult for them to process and act on sensory information, which makes it difficult to perform normal daily tasks. It may be difficult to coordinate movements, making it difficult for people with sensory integration disorder to brush their teeth or get dressed. They may be clumsy and have trouble walking without crashing into things.

Children with sensory integration disorder may be easily overwhelmed by sensory information. Sensory integration disorder can affect one sense, or it may affect many. For example, a child who experiences difficulty integrating sound may scream every time a parent turns on the vacuum cleaner and avoid fireworks and other loud noises. Another child who has difficulty integrating sound may fail to respond to a fire alarm.

Children with sensory integration disorder often have trouble with motor skills and other abilities that are needed for school success and accomplishments. This can result in low-self esteem, lead to social isolation, depression, and other mental health issues.


Symptoms of sensory integration disorder include:

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