What Is Sensory Integration Dysfunction?

Sensory Integration Dysfunction is extreme responses to sensory stimulation.

Hyper- (over) or Hypo- (under) sensitivity of the five senses.

There are serious sensory challenges that often accompany autism. While information is sensed normally, it may be perceived much differently. Sometimes stimuli that seem “normal” to neuro-typical children can be experienced as painful, unpleasant or confusing by the child with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID), the clinical term for this characteristic. (SID may also be called Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Disorder.).

Most people have no problem walking down the street with a friend, having a conversation, hearing the sounds of the neighborhood in the background, smelling the blooming spring flowers, and maybe chewing gum, all at the same time. For an  individual with autism this may be completely overwhelming and painful. They might be oblivious to sounds, such as an ambulance screaming by, or may be overpowered by the smell of blooming flowers. The sun shining through the trees may become such an intense experience that it could inhibit the individual from being able to concentrate on walking down the sidewalk. This inability to mesh the senses appropriately may profoundly impact someone’s ability to act and communicate in appropriate ways.

Treatment for Sensory Integration Dysfunction is usually addressed with occupational therapy and/or sensory integration therapy.


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