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Sensory Integration Disorder: types, causes, symptoms and treatments

Sensory Integration Disorder: types, causes, symptoms and treatments

July 19, 2024

Although we use vision, touch and other senses as if they were unique and coherent information blocks that we all experience at the same time, the truth is that in order for several parts of the human brain to work well, they must work in coordination with each other.

Even if we believe that at any given moment our consciousness perfectly integrates what we hear, touch, see and taste, what actually happens is that our nervous system crisscrosses totally different data.

This is something that is evident in cases in which a person suffers sensory integration disorder, an alteration that is relatively common in boys and girls and that we will see next. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 15% of children of school age have the kind of problems associated with this disorder.

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What is Sensory Integration Disorder?

This mental disorder, also known as sensory processing disorder , consists of an anomaly of the neurological functioning that generates problem when processing the data coming from the senses, being healthy the receiving organ of stimuli and the nerve that connects it to the rest of the nervous system.

For example, where there is sensory integration disorder it is possible that certain relevant and unambiguous sensory information captured by the eyes be omitted or arrive "late" to consciousness and that, consequently, it does not generate an adequate reaction or in a reasonable period.

It is also common for people with sensory processing disorder feel discomfort to be "overloaded" by data from the senses, or on the contrary, a lack of stimulation that makes have the feeling of living in a bubble .

For example, a girl may try to go somewhere else because what she has in front of her eyes is too complex, has many colors, etc. That is to say, that children with sensory integration disorder are more likely to notice too much stimulation even maintaining a passive attitude and not exploratory of the environment, or on the contrary, a hyposensitivity

Regrettably, the little that is known about this alteration makes it difficult to diagnose it , although the number of registered cases is increasing little by little, both in minors and adults.

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Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder

The main symptoms of this alteration depend in part on whether hypersensitivity to stimuli or hyposensitivity is shown. In cases where there is a lot of sensitivity, characteristic symptoms are the following:

1. Hypersensitivity

For example, the boy or girl avoid being near bright lights , or it shows some very particular tastes with the clothes that can be put on because "it stings" or feels too much.

2. Clumsiness and lack of coordination

Costs know what place your body parts are occupying at each moment , which is why he falls relatively frequently and feels unskilled when handling objects.

3. Propensity to distractions

The high sensitivity to sensory stimuli whose information they can not process well makes these little ones more easily distracted, since they keep their minds occupied with this kind of complications .

As for those who experience hyposensitivity, the warning signs are of this style:

1. Look for constant contact

This can lead to asking for tight clothes, for example, or to ask for hugs at all times.

2. Restless attitude

Constant stimulation is sought by several routes, and they try to find places with many elements to touch , interesting sounds, etc.

3. Low sensitivity to pain

Even if your body is damaged, they react relatively little intensely.

4. Fear of the uncertainty of your position

Some children with this disorder they fear the possibility of modifying the position of their head and become "misplaced" by that change.


The sensory integration disorder is not a completely homogeneous phenomenon, but rather the diversity of known cases leads one to think in several sub-categories. These are the types of sensory processing disorder which are considered so far:

Sensory modulation disorder

This variant It is characterized by low sensitivity to stimuli . For example, the person does not take long to react to a new stimulus after being exposed to several that are exactly equal to each other.

Motor sensory disorder

In these cases, the "lag" with which sensory information arrives makes It costs to coordinate one's movements at the time of trying to adapt to that environment that is changing and offering different sources of stimuli.

Sensory discrimination

There are significant difficulties when it comes to distinguish clearly different stimuli , or it is achieved but after having tried it for a too long time.

Causes of this alteration

The causes of the sensory integration disorder are not known, although it is estimated that a dysfunction of cortical areas involved in advanced processing of sensory information, since it is not exactly deafness, blindness or anything like that: it is a bad management, by the encephalon, of the data that are coming from the senses.

In this sense, areas of cortical association and areas of white matter, which are those that communicate with each other parts of the brain responsible for processing different data sources, could be involved.


There is no known definitive cure for this disorder, although there are intervention proposals aimed at mitigating the harmful effect that the symptoms exert on the quality of life of children and adults who experience it.

Sensory integration therapy , in particular, makes the person involved in learning tasks that require coordination of their senses at the same time in real time in order to create opportunities for the corresponding areas of the brain to get used to working with each other through brain plasticity .

Sensory Processing Disorder: Occupational Therapy Demonstration (July 2024).

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