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Sensory Integration Dysfuntion is a term we hear more and more these days, but it still seems to confuse many people. New research is coming out all the time, helping to shed light on what can be a difficult disorder to understand. Here’s a pretty basic overview.


Most people remember being taught about just 5 senses. However, it turns out there are truly SEVEN senses. Sensory Integration deals with all 7 senses: sight, sounds, smell, taste, touch, vestibular, and proprioceptive. Vestibular system relates to the body’s sense of balance and coordination, while the proprioceptive system relates to the body’s sense of where it is in space and the feelings of pressure. Sensory integration dysfunction happens when a person is unable to process and use sensory information from any one of these senses.

 Sensory differences

5 common characteristics of sensory integration dysfunction

  • Over or under responsiveness to input: can’t tolerate loud sounds or walking on grass, or having an unusally high tolerance to pain or a desire for tight squeezes
  • Fine motor struggles and/or motor planning
  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next
  • Need for constant movement or easily becoming overly tired
  • Inability to self-regulate: difficulty relaxing after an activity


While many people with sensory integrative dysfunction receive the messages from outside stimuli such as sounds, lights, and other sensations, the messages sent to the brain get “mixed up” and it becomes difficult to process these sensations.


Many therapies are available for individuals with Sensory Integration Dysfunction. These are the three most common.

  • Occupational Therapy The goal of OT is to create exhibit appropriate and functional responses to sensations.
  • Sensory Integrative Therapy This typically involves sequences of movements designed to help a child better receive sensory input.
  • Integrated Listening Therapy This is said to improve brain function and emotional regulation by helping the brain to process sensory information by way of music played through headphones.


For more information on Sensory Dysfunction, visit the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.