ADULT WITH SENSORY INTEGRATION DISORDER
When we hear about sensory integration disorders, we see a small child, plugging their ears or nose, crying because their hands are dirty, or being in constant motion, tripping and bumping into objects. This little child will grow up one day, and the disorder, especially if left untreated, will remain, because you don't grow out of sensory integration disorder.
When I was a small child no one had heard of sensory integration disorders. So I was told that I was clumsy because I kept breaking things, dropping things, tripping over things on the straight and narrow. I was also described as a "princess" because I abhorred touching so many objects and textures, I disliked tiring myself and toiling, and preferred static activities. At school I hated team games because I would lose or get hit by a ball, and during lessons I would literally lie on the bench and could not understand how my classmates were sitting up straight. Sensory Integration Disorder made it difficult for me from an early age and unfortunately it still does .... And not only me. There are many people among us who experience difficulties in everyday life, without usually realising that they may be due to a sensory processing disorder
So how can SI disorders manifest themselves in adults?
- Avoidance of various activities, e.g. flying, swimming, skating or skiing
- A fear of heights or motion sickness
- Avoiding certain places, especially noisy and crowded places such as shopping centres, festivals, concerts and even social events
- Excessive nervousness, irritability, especially when exposed to unpleasant tactile, auditory or olfactory sensations, e.g. when riding public transport, queuing or at a family event
- Avoiding certain foods because of their taste, smell or texture
- Difficulty learning to drive a car or to dance
- Clumsiness and difficulty in learning new motor activities
- Difficulty with physical proximity
- Difficulty with manual activities, such as sewing or handicrafts
As can be seen from these examples, sensory integration disorders in adults can impair functioning in many areas of life - they can hinder private and professional life, affect the way people spend their free time, and limit participation in many activities. They also affect social relationships and emotions. People with sensory integration disorders are often perceived as nervous, temperamental, unorganised, or unsocial. All of this affects their quality of life, their choices, their self-esteem.
The plasticity of the brain allows for sensory integration therapy to be carried out at any age (of course it is most effective with children up to 7 years of age), and although SI therapy for adults is not common in Poland, there are therapists who work with these individuals as well. This therapy is usually different from child therapy, and relies heavily on the therapist's tailored activities for the individual. It is good to know that adults with sensory integration disorders are not left alone and can also count on professional help.
special educator, specialist in sensory integration