|© Copyright, 2007-2011 Sensorize, Sensorized All rights reserved.
Use the information provided on this site as an educational resource for determining your options and making your
own informed choices. It is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any specific illness.
Toys, Products, and Ideas
for Sensory Education
|Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with processing information
from the five classic senses (vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste), the sense of movement (vestibular
system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception). See our "What is SI?" page for more info.
For those with SPD or SID, sensory information is sensed normally, but perceived abnormally. Individuals
with sensory processing disorder may therefore be overly or under responsive to sensations. For example,
sensations that are typically not noticed by most of us, such as a light touch on the arm, may be extremely
bothersome to an individual with the over-responsive type of sensory processing disorder; conversely
sensations that we normally orient to, such as our name being called, may not be recognized by
individuals with the under-responsive type of sensory processing disorder.
This responsiveness to sensations often interferes with functional behaviors, social interaction and
learning activities, and thus, occupational therapists work with these individual's to help them function
SPD can be a disorder on its own, but it can also be a characteristic of other neurological conditions,
including autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, Developmental Dyspraxia,
Tourette's Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and speech delays, among many others.
How Does an Adult or Adolescent Know if He or She has Sensory Integration Dysfunction?
If you or an adult acquaintance answer yes to several of the following questions, a sensory integration
based occupational therapy evaluation may be beneficial. Rate on a scale of 0-5 ("0" being NEVER, "5"
___Difficulties with balance, becomes disoriented and/or fearful on elevators or escalators.
___Fatigues easily; tends to lean on arms or slump at desk.
___Accident-prone, clumsy or awkward in daily activities.
___Dislikes crowds or accidental jostling in public situations (standing in line at the movie theater or
shopping in store aisles).
___Low tolerance for approach from behind or unexpected touch.
___Difficulty in maintaining intimate relationships, difficulty with physical closeness.
___Disorganized in work or home activities.
___Difficulty following several step instructions for motor tasks.
___Difficulty with driving, parking, shifting gears or entering freeways.
___Poor self-esteem, lack of confidence.
___Difficulty focusing attention or over-focused and unable to shift to next task.
___Bothered by clothes; certain materials, tags, seams, pantyhose, ties, belts, turtlenecks, have to wear
shorts, skirts, or pants exclusively.
___Have to fidget and "fiddle" with things all the time; change in your pocket, your keys, a pen/pencil,
paper clip, rubber band, ANYTHING within reach
___Will often rock or sway body back and forth while seated or standing still
___Restless when sitting through a lecture, presentation, or movie
___Constantly chews on ends of pens and pencils
___Frequently shake your leg while sitting or falling asleep
___Has an "endless" supply of air fresheners, scented candles, odor masking sprays, etc.
___Avoids crowds and plans errands at times when there will be fewer people
___Drinks excessive amounts of coffee or caffeinated beverages
___Notice and bothered by noises other people do not seem bothered by... clocks, refrigerators, fans, people
talking, outdoor construction, etc.
___Easily distracted by auditory or visual stimuli
___Fearful of heights
___Difficulty remembering or understanding what is said to you
___Sensitive, or over reacts, to sirens, dogs barking, vaccuum cleaners, blenders, or other sudden/loud
___Bumps into things frequently
___Often pushes too hard on objects, accidentally breaking them
___Difficulty judging how much pressure to apply when doing tasks or picking something up
___Numbers and letters often reversed or backwards
___Clumsy, uncoordinated, and accident prone
___Difficulty with fine motor tasks such as buttoning, zipping, tying, knitting, sewing, playing games with
small parts, closing zip loc bags
___Difficulty with handwriting; hard to read, takes a long time to write
___Easily fatigued with physical tasks
___Hums or vocalizes while concentrating on a task
___Difficulty lining up numbers correctly for math problems and/or balancing a checkbook
___Dislikes changes in plans or routines, needs structure
___May be described as "stubborn", "defiant", or "uncooperative"
___Cries easily, over things others usually don't, very "emotional" and "sensitive"
___Can't seem to finish anything
___Difficulty making decisions
___Rigid and controlling
___Prefers solitary activities, avoids groups
___Impatient and/or impulsive
___Difficulty with social cues and non verbal language
___Difficulty with authority figures
___Strong feelings of anger or rage
___OCD-type qualities; can't let foods touch each other on your plate, have to wear clothes a certain way,
___Distractable and unorganized
___Over or under sensitivity to the sensation of hunger/appetite
Therapy for adults typically includes 3 steps:
First, the therapist explains to the patient why they respond the way they do to touch, movement, vision,
smell, hearing and taste. With this information, patient begin to gain some control over the amounts and
types of sensory stimuli they encounter and can advocate for themselves.
Second, patients engage in sensory and physical activities that make them feel better, such as applying
pressure to the skin, experiencing heavy vibration, jumping on a trampoline, rocking in a rocking chair or
more extreme activities several times per day.
Third, patients are advised to add strenuous activity to their lifestyles, such as jogging, swimming, aerobics
or weight lifting.
Sensory Diet Checklist for Adolescents & Adults (pdf)
Other activities that have been helpful for adult SI:
Studies have shown that yoga reduces autonomic nervous system tone, provides proprioceptive input, and
engages the relaxation response through the neuromuscular and limbic systems. Proprioceptive activities
may enhance self-regulation, decrease sensory defensiveness, and improve body awareness. Participation
in yoga provides a substantial amount of proprioceptive input and yoga will help decrease sensory
defensiveness and improve participation in social activities. Direct benefits to the subjects include
identification of atypical sensory sensitivity; a greater understanding of self-management techniques that
reduce sensory reactivity and anxiety; and better engagement in daily occupations, routines, and
perceived roles with resultant successful outcomes. See our yoga page for more info.