This is a sample of a questionnaire based on research by Dunn and Westman, two Occupational Therapists from The University of Kansas. They based the questions on a sample of 1,115 parents of children without disabilities. The questions included here are helpful when a child begins to be evaluated by an occupational therapist. (Reprinted with permission.)
Think about your child and his or her reactions as you answer the questions. It is very helpful to consider how your child functions in different environments – in therapy, home and school. You may wish to make a copy for your child’s teacher to complete. Check “yes” or “no” after each item on the parents’ questionnaire. Many “yeses” suggest that sensory integration issues are a factor contributing to your child’s overall performance, and you should explore this further with your child’s professional team.
Responds negatively to unexpected or loud noises (e.g.. vacuum, dogs, hand dryer)
Holds hands over ears
Can’t work with background noise
Doesn’t respond when name is called
Seems oblivious within an active environment
Prefers to be in the dark
Has difficulty putting puzzles together
Hesitates going up or down steps
Gets lost easily
Is bothered by bright lights
Stares intensely at people or objects
Avoids eye contact
Doesn’t notice when people come in the room
Avoids certain tastes/smells that are typically part of children’s diets
Routinely smells nonfood objects
Chews/licks nonfood objects (puts fingers or toys in mouth.)
Is a picky eater, will only eat certain tastes
Seeks out certain tastes or smells
Does not seem to smell strong odors
Continually seeks out all kinds of movement activities (e.g. being whirled by adult, playground equipment, moving toys)
Hangs on other people, furniture, objects, even in familiar situations
Seems to have weak muscles
Tires easily, has poor endurance
Walks on toes
Can’t lift heavy objects
Becomes anxious or distressed when feet leave the ground
Dislikes head upside down
Avoids climbing or jumping
Seeks all kinds of movement and this interferes with daily life
Avoids playground equipment or moving toys
Rocks without realizing it (e.g. while watching TV)
Takes excessive risks while playing, has no safety awareness
Twirls or spins self frequently during the day
Avoids “getting messy” in glue, sand, finger paint, tape
Is sensitive to certain fabrics (clothes, bedding)
Touches people and objects at an irritating level
Avoids going barefoot, especially in grass or sand
Displays unusual need for touching certain toys, surfaces or textures
Has decreased awareness of pain or temperature
Attention, Behavior and Social
Jumps from one activity to another frequently and it interferes with play
Has difficulty paying attention
Needs more protection from life than other children
Has trouble “growing up”
Is overly affectionate with others
Is accident prone
Has difficulty making friends
Is overly serious
Doesn’t have a sense of humor
Doesn’t express emotions
Links to Learn More About Sensory Integration:
This does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the information found on any given site, as we feel each person should have the opportunity to access all information available and make personal judgments on the content. It is also important to discuss any specific questions concerning your child with a trained professional, who has direct contact with the child and knowledge of his/her individual needs.
Sensory Integration International, http://home.earthlink.net/~sensoryint/
Sensory Integration, http://www.mindspring.com/~mariep/si/toc.html
Sensory Integrative Dysfunction in Young Children, http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/fall97/sensory.htm
Learning Disabilities Association of America, http://www.ldanatl.org/
New Visions, http://www.new-vis.com/
Diana Henry’s Homepage, http://gtcs.com/sponsors/henry
Books on Sensory Integration:
Sensory Integration and the Child, by A. Jean Ayres, 1979.
This is the original work from the person who first recognized and researched the concepts of sensory integration. Although continued research since the publication of this book has altered SI theory in some ways, this remains an outstanding work.
The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, by Carol Stock Kranowitz, 1998, ISBN 0-399-52386-3.
This is an excellent, parent friendly presentation of the challenges involved in the diagnosis, treatment, and everyday needs of children with SI dysfunction.
SenseAbilities: Understanding Sensory Integration, by Maryann Colby Trott, M.A., with Marci K. Laurel, M.A., CCC-SLP, and Susan L. Windeck, M.S., OTR/L, 1993, ISBN 0761642838.
This is published by Therapy Skill Builders, and therapists have the option of photocopying selected portions of the book for parents to take home. The pamphlets can also be purchased in sets of 5. Ask your therapist about it…
Out of the Mouth of Babes: Discovering the Developmental Significance of the Mouth, by Frick, Frick, Oetter, and Richter, 1996, published by PDP Products.
A 30 page pamphlet explaining the importance of the mouth in the development of life skills. Designed for parents and teachers.
The Child with Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth, by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D., Serena Wieder, Ph.D., with Robin Simons, 1998, ISBN 0-201-40726-4.
Billed as “The comprehensive approach to developmental challenges including autism, PDD, language and speech problems, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADD, and other related disorders”, this book includes methods for parents and professionals to interact in productive ways with children who have significant sensory disturbances. The focus is on building intimate personal relationships with the child, which is seen as the foundation for communication and learning.
Shirley Sutton is an Occupational Therapist. She is a co-author of
Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration