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Sensory Integration Dysfunction (DSI) is the inability of the brain to correctly process information brought in through the senses. DSI was first noticed in children with autism or who had autistic traits but is often seen by itself.

DSI never appears the same in any child. Children may present with a few or many of the typical DSI behaviors. Children can have mild, moderate or severe SI deficits.

The good news is that DSI is treatable with therapy and a sensory rich diet created by an occupational therapist who is trained in DSI. Your county or city’s Board of Education or Early Intervention Service Department should have a referral list of occupational therapists in your area with the appropriate training and/or a program for your child that includes a sensory rich curriculum.


Tactile Dysfunction

Children with DSI can be either hyposensitive or hypersensitive to outside stimuli. For example a child who is hyposensitive to touch will constantly be crashing into things seeking extra stimulation while the hypersensitive child will avoid being touched or touching things when at all possible. Or a child may present with a combination of these.


Visual Dysfunction

Children with DSI may have a visual processing deficit, which means that they have a hard time finding the words for objects they are viewing or, if asked to go get an object, they might look right at it and then say they can’t find it. This is because they are seeing it but their brains are not processing that they are seeing it.


Auditory Dysfunction

Children with auditory processing deficits are similar to the visual. A child will hear what you say but the brain does not process it so the child understands or it takes several minutes or several commands from you for the child to process what you said. A good way to helpa child with these deficits is to make instructions simple and singular. Pull your pants down. Sit on the potty. Make wet. Wipe Yourself. Etc. Music therapy can also help with auditory processing deficits.


Vestibular Dysfunction

Children with vestibular processing deficits may have trouble keeping their balance. They may appear clumsy and/or unbalanced. Awkward. They don’t like to swing upside down unless they can touch the ground. They are careful about where and how fast they run due to common falls. These children have an inability to process their physical space in the world and need to be able to see or feel where they are at all times.