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It can be an overwhelming feeling hearing that your loved one has a sensory integration need. It can be frustrating not knowing where to turn to obtain help. Many individuals with Autism, ADHD, ADD, Sensory Processing Disorder and many others may find some relief with weighted products. Below, we provide an explanation of these terms and encourage you to discuss weighted products with your physician or occupational therapist if you have additional questions. Caring for a loved one with special needs is challenging and Calming Hugs wants to connect you with informative sources that may offer support.

David L. Holmes, states in his book, Autism through the Lifespan: the Eden model, "that sensory integrative therapy (Ayres, 1979) is another treatment based on neural reorganization, this time focusing on the processing of sensory information in children with autism. Therapists believe that children with autism do not register or regulate sensory input correctly, especially tactile and vestibular input, and do not have inner drive strong enough to overcome their sensory dysfunctions."

When the child is better able to integrate various sensory stimuli, the world will seem less threatening, and so the child will feel more comfortable interacting with people in his environment.


(Most definitions provided by The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Stock Kranowitz 2005)

Asperger Syndrome (AS): is on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder and another form of PDD. People with Asperger Syndrome frequently have difficulties with hearing, vision, moving, touching, and other sensory areas. Sensory integration treatment often will lessen their anxiety and clumsiness and improve their social participation.

Autism: A lifelong neurological disability, usually appearing during the first three years of life, which severely impairs the person's sensory processing, verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, imagination, problem-solving, and development.

In broad terms, autism is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) that affects verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, imagination, and problem-solving. Another component of autism is difficulty with sensory modulation, sensory discrimination, motor planning, and sequencing. Problems with sensations are sometimes overlooked or downplayed but are among the main areas of impairment.

Interoception/Interoceptive sense: The body-centered sense involving both the conscious awareness and the unconscious regulation of bodily processes of the heart, liver, stomach, and other internal organs.

Intersensory integration: The convergence of sensations of touch, body position, movement, sight, sound, and smell.

Occupational therapy (OT): The use of activity to maximize the independence and the maintenance of health of an individual who is *limited by a physical injury or illness, cognitive impairment, psychosocial dysfunction, mental illness, developmental or learning disability, or adverse environmental condition. OT encompasses evaluation, assessment, treatment, and consultation.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder: Severe, overall impairment in the ability to regulate sensory experiences, affecting the child's affect and behavior, interaction with others, and communication skills.

Praxis: The ability to interact successfully with the physical environment; to ideate, plan, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions; and to do what one needs and wants to do. Praxis (Greek for "doing, action, practice") is a broad term denoting voluntary and coordinated action. Motor planning is often used as a synonym.

Proprioception/Proprioceptive sense: The unconscious awareness of sensations coming from one's muscles and joints that provides information about when and how muscles contract or stretch; when and how joints bend, extend, or are pulled; and where each part of the body is and how it is moving.

Sensory integration (SI): is the name of the process by which incoming sensations are interpreted, connected, and organized, something that is necessary for a child to feel safe and comfortable and able to function effectively in the environment. When a child is not able to make sense of sensory experiences, his or her behavior and learning may be profoundly affected, according to a theory by Dr. Jean Ayres. She suggests that the unusual behaviors just described are due to sensory integrative dysfunction. Dr. Ayres noted that not only children with autism spectrum disorders, but also those with learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and genetic syndromes, may suffer from sensory integrative dysfunction. Some children with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome are overly sensitive to and easily overwhelmed by everyday sensations, such as certain sounds, tastes, textures, or smells, or by being touched. Parents sometimes describe the phenomenon as "sensory overload". (A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome & High-Functioning Autism: How to meet the challenges and help your child thrive By Sally Ozonoff, PhD, Geraldine Dawson, PhD, James McPartland 2002),

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD): Difficulty in the way the brain takes in, organizes and uses sensory information, causing a person to have problems interacting effectively in the everyday environment. Sensory stimulation may cause difficulty in one's movement, emotions, attention, or adaptive responses. SPD is not one specific disorder, but rather an umbrella term to cover a variety of neurological disabilities. SPD is also called Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SI Dysfunction) and Dysfunction in Sensory Integration (DSI).

Sensory-Based Motor Disorder: A problem with movement, such as Postural Disorder and Dyspraxia, resulting from inefficient sensory processing. Postural Disorder, involves problems with movement patterns, balance and using both sides of the body together (bilateral coordination). The problem often coexists with underresponsivity and poor sensory discrimination. Dyspraxia, or difficulty with praxis is based on the unconscious sensory processing as well as conscious thought. The dyspraxic child has problems performing coordinated and voluntary actions.

Sensory diet: The multisensory experiences that one normally seeks on a daily basis to satisfy one's sensory appetite: a planned and scheduled activity program that an occupational therapist develops to help a person become more self-regulated.

Sensory Discrimination Disorder: Problems in discerning the characteristics of sensory stimuli and the differences among and between stimuli.

Sensory integration (SI): The part of sensory processing whereby sensations from one or more sensory systems connect in the brain. SI dysfunction is another term for SPD.

Sensory integration theory: A concept based on neurology, research, and behavior that explains the brain-behavior relationship.

Sensory integration treatment: A technique of occupational therapy, which provides playful, meaningful activities that enhance and individual's sensory intake and lead to more adaptive functioning in daily life. The emphasis is on improving sensory-motor processing rather than skill training.

Sensory Modulation Disorder: The inability to regulate and organize the degree, intensity, and nature of responses to sensory input in a raded and adaptive manner.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD): Difficulty in the way the brain takes in, organizes and uses sensory information, causing a person to have problems interacting effectively in the everyday environment. Sensory stimulation may cause difficulty in one's movement, emotions, attention, relationships, or adaptive responses.

Tactile sense: The sensory system that receives sensations of pressure, vibration, movement, temperature, and pain, primarily through receptors in the skin and hair. Protective receptors respond to light or unexpected touch and help a person avoid bodily harm; discriminative receptors provide information about the tactile qualities of the object or person being touched.

Touch pressure: The tactile stimulus that causes receptors in the skin to respond. Deep pressure activates receptors in the discriminative system.

Vestibular sense (the balance and movement sense): The sensory system that responds to the pull of gravity, providing information about the head's position in relation to the surface of the earth, and coordinating movements of the eyes, head, and body that affect equilibrium, muscle tone, vision, hearing and emotional security. Receptors are in the inner ear.
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