When Children Feel Too Much -- or Too Little

A Child With a Challenge

My story is, in its own way, dramatic. While I read up on DSI, I stopped thinking of Jonah as a challenging child and started thinking he was a child with a challenge. I began avoiding chaotic situations, like the playground at peak hours. After a bath, I wrapped my son in a receiving blanket instead of a towel, and he snuggled into it. My husband began holding him in a tight hug that Jonah would at first resist, then relax into. And instead of getting exasperated when he threw a tantrum, I redoubled my efforts to soothe him.

In the midst of this, I called Lauren Robertson, an OT based in New York City who also happens to be my neighbor. She gave me books and reassurances that Jonah, whom she knows fairly well, didn't need evaluation for a condition she was certain he didn't have. "He's well related," she explained, noting that he makes eye contact with other people and connects with them. "He's developing normally and reaching age-level milestones. Although he's sensitive to stimuli, he's coping with it enough to make a developmentally appropriate response."

Not long after my husband and I started to be more mindful of Jonah's sensory difficulties, he started to cope better. And as his ability to communicate improved, his behavior changed greatly. Although Jonah is still high-strung at times, he's a loving, happy 3 ?-year-old who after his bath enjoys being wrapped in, of all things, a towel. His sensitivity may have been due to immature neurological development. Or Jonah may have been at risk for DSI, and the steps my husband and I took to soothe his frazzled neurological system may have made a difference. It's nice to think so.

Where to Get Help

To find a pediatric occupational therapist who is certified to provide sensory integration treatment where you live, contact any of the following groups:

  • The American Occupational Therapy Association at 301-652-6611 or www.aota.org
  • Developmental Delay Resources at 301-652-2263 or www.devdelay.org
  • Sensory Integration International at 310-320-9986 or www.sensoryint.com. SII charges $5 for a list of therapists based in your area.

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Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the December/January 2004 issue of Child magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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