Expert Advice: Sensory Integration Adopted Children

Evaluating Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Adopted children who are transitioning to a new environment may temporarily demonstrate some of the behaviors listed above. However, if you are concerned that your child might have sensory integration dysfunction, consider the following questions.

  • What is the frequency of the concerning behaviors? Are the behaviors seen frequently throughout the day, several times a day/week or once in a while? If the behaviors are seen only once in awhile, then it is not sensory integration dysfunction.
  • What is the duration of these behaviors? If irritability or impulsiveness is seen first thing in the morning, does it escalate as the day progresses? Do the behaviors last more than an hour?
  • Finally, what is the intensity of these behaviors? Are the responses of the child appropriate to the situation? Or does the child "blow things out of proportion"? The first haircut can be upsetting, but do the following haircuts still bring on the same intense behaviors? Does the child really play with toys, or does he or she move things around without active engagement? Does the child demonstrate delays in gross motor skills, fine motor skills, or language/oral motor development?

If the answers to these questions confirm suspicions that your child might have sensory integration dysfunction, an evaluation can be done by a qualified occupational therapist. The occupational therapist should have experience with evaluating and treating children with sensory integration dysfunction. The term SIPT certified or SI certified means that the therapist has undergone the 100 hours of training to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) with some discussion of the theory. A. Jean Ayres, the founder of the sensory integration development theory, designed this test to identify children between 4 and 8 year of age for sensory integration dysfunction. There are also many occupational therapists without this particular training who may be just as qualified to evaluate and treat because they have attended many courses discussing the theory and treatment of sensory integration. If your child does not meet the age range for the SIPT, there are other appropriate tests and assessment methods.

To find out more about, or to locate a qualified SI therapist in your area, please contact Linda Duval, SPARK education specialist, at 212-360-0231 or

Eva Rodriguez, MA, OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program at SUNY, Stony Brook.


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