Sensory Integration Dysfunction

December 7, 2018

Sensory Integration Dysfunction is a hot topic in the pediatric community and very important to us at TOTS.  We would like to provide a series to discuss some of the red flags for sensory integration dysfunction, discuss each system, and provide some ideas to work on each area of sensory dysfunction.  Sensory dysfunction is very specific to each person.  We all have a sensory system and at times it does not function the same as someone else and we have to use strategies we have learned to calm it.  You might know someone who chews gum or a pen, another who likes the radio on while they are working, ad another who prefers to be under a blanket even if it is not cold.  All of these are strategies to calm the sensory system.

In some cases your child may  not be able to create or access calming strategies or they may not respond normally to sensations in the environment.  you may even see children who over respond to some things like sound and under respond to others like knowing where their body is in space.  Therapy can hep assess what each part of the system is doing and make a plan to help the system develop just like fine motor and gross motor skills are able to be improved with skilled therapy.

Today we we would like to provide a checklist for symptoms from the STAR institute, the facility on the cutting edge of assessing and treating SPD. Several symptoms on the checklist may indicate that further investigation may be warranted for your child and family.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Symptom Checklist

Many of the symptoms listed in the following categories are common to that particular age group. Where more than a few symptoms are found in a child, we recommend you talk to your doctor or check the STAR Institute’s Treatment Directory for a professional experienced with treating Sensory Processing Disorder.*

Infant/ Toddler Checklist:

____ My infant/toddler has problems eating.

____ My infant/toddler refused to go to anyone but me.

____ My infant/toddler has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

____ My infant/toddler is extremely irritable when I dress him/her; seems to be uncomfortable in clothes.

____ My infant/toddler rarely plays with toys, especially those requiring dexterity.

____ My infant/toddler has difficulty shifting focus from one object/activity to another.

____ My infant/toddler does not notice pain or is slow to respond when hurt.

____ My infant/toddler resists cuddling, arches back away from the person holding him.

____ My infant/toddler can not calm self by sucking on a pacifier, looking at toys, or listening to my voice.

____ My infant/toddler has a “floppy” body, bumps into things and has poor balance.

____ My infant/toddler does little or no babbling, vocalizing.

____ My infant/toddler is easily startled.

____ My infant/toddler is extremely active and is constantly moving body/limbs or runs endlessly.

____ My infant/toddler seems to be delayed in crawling, standing, walking or running.


Pre-School Checklist:

____ My child has difficulty being toilet trained.

____ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.

____ My child is unaware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force/intensity.

____ My child has difficulty learning and/or avoids performing fine motor tasks such as using crayons and fasteners on clothing.

____ My child seems unsure how to move his/her body in space, is clumsy and awkward.

____ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks.

____ My child is in constant motion.

____ My child gets in everyone else’s space and/or touches everything around him.

____ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).

____ My child is intense, demanding or hard to calm and has difficulty with transitions.

____ My child has sudden mood changes and temper tantrums that are unexpected.

____ My child seems weak, slumps when sitting/standing; prefers sedentary activities.

____ It is hard to understand my child’s speech.

____ My child does not seem to understand verbal instructions.


School Age:

___ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.

___ My child is easily distracted in the classroom, often out of his/her seat, fidgety.

___ My child is easily overwhelmed at the playground, during recess and in class.

___ My child is slow to perform tasks.

___ My child has difficulty performing or avoids fine motor tasks such as handwriting.

___ My child appears clumsy and stumbles often, slouches in chair.

___ My child craves rough housing, tackling/wrestling games.

___ My child is slow to learn new activities.

___ My child is in constant motion.

___ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks and prefers sedentary activities.

___ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).

___ My child ‘gets stuck’ on tasks and has difficulty changing to another task.

___ My child confuses similar sounding words, misinterprets questions or requests.

___ My child has difficulty reading, especially aloud.

___ My child stumbles over words; speech lacks fluency, and rhythm is hesitant.



___ I am over-sensitive to environmental stimulation: I do not like being touched.

___ I avoid visually stimulating environments and/or I am sensitive to sounds.

___ I often feel lethargic and slow in starting my day.

___ I often begin new tasks simultaneously and leave many of them uncompleted.

___ I use an inappropriate amount of force when handling objects.

___ I often bump into things or develop bruises that I cannot recall.

___ I have difficulty learning new motor tasks, or sequencing steps of a task.

___ I need physical activities to help me maintain my focus throughout the day.

___ I have difficulty staying focused at work and in meetings.

___ I misinterpret questions and requests, requiring more clarification than usual.

___ I have difficulty reading, especially aloud.

___ My speech lacks fluency, I stumble over words.

___ I must read material several times to absorb the content.

___ I have trouble forming thoughts and ideas in oral presentations.

___ I have trouble thinking up ideas for essays or written tasks at school.

*While this checklist can’t diagnose a child with SPD, it can be a helpful guide to see if additional testing should be done. When filling out this checklist, think about the child’s behavior during the past six months


Curious if your child could benefit? Consultations are free. Call today.

Contact Us