Children with Sensory Based Motor Disorder have a hard time coordinating their brains and the bodies. Normally, the brain receives sensory messages (sensory input) and produces an adaptive response (motor output). When a child suffers from Sensory Based Motor Disorder, they respond incorrectly to the surrounding environment whether it’s by not understanding the space around them or inability to move the body in the right way.
There are two different types of Sensory Based Motor Disorder:
Dyspraxia comes from the two Latin words “praxis” to do and “dys” badly. Children that suffer from this condition have a hard time processing environmental stimuli and following through with a motor action. They will usually have poor motor coordination, timing, planning, organizing, and sequencing. Most kids will prefer sedentary activities and be more imaginative to hide their lack of physical skills as compared to their classmates.
Common symptoms of dyspraxia include:
difficulty handling scissors, eating utensils and other hand held devices
difficulting buttoning, zipping and other fine motor activities
difficulty dressing themselves
poor hand eye coordination
difficulty navigating through a crowd
inability to learn complex sequence of movement
anxiety walking up or down stairs
visual perception issues including crossing the midline (taking left hand and putting it on the right shoulder or reading from left to right)
Postural disorder deals with the child’s ability to operate their muscles and move their own bodies successfully. Children usually have difficulty keeping their body on task while moving or keeping their body still at rest.
Common symptoms of postural disorder include:
frequently drooling or inability to keep things in the mouth while eating
not chewing food thoroughly
poor depth perception
difficulty focusing eyes
terrible aim when reaching for objects
poor sports performance
difficulty maintaining balance for long periods of time
frequently leaning on furniture or wall
sits in awkward positions
low muscle tone
difficulty using the rest room
These issues are important to address at an early age because children who suffer from Sensory Based Motor Disorders often feel isolated. It is common for children to not relate with peers because they cannot perform the same physical tasks as others such as climbing the monkey bars.
Here are some activities that you can do to help with Sensory Based Motor Disorder:
improve core muscle strength by bending, flexing, stretching and rotating
increase activity endurance by walking to school, walking to local stores, going for a bike ride on the weekends, trampoline time before dinner
improving balance by standing on one while brushing teeth or other activities where they would be standing
increase access to sports that don’t involve hand eye coordination such as swimming, horse riding, martial arts, pilates or even gymnastics
improve social participation by signing them up for classes to help develop self-esteem and reduce isolation
improve diet – find textures (soft or crunchy) and colors of foods that your child enjoys so you can make sure they are getting the proper nutrition and a balanced diet
The definition of sensory modulation is the brain’s capability to respond in the correct fashion to the surrounding environmental stimuli and the ability to remain at the correct level of responsiveness. In the most basic form, sensory modulation is how we make sense of the physical world and how we place ourself within that world. We do this by using our 8 senses previously mentioned in earlier blog articles.
Typically, sensory modulation happens automatically, without thinking and without any effort. Our brains take in stimuli, filters out irrelevant stimuli and our muscles perform the correct actions accordingly. But if your child is suffering from Sensory Modulation Disorder, the process isn’t as automatic and requires effort. The perception of the stimuli gets muddled and the child’s corresponding action seems illogical.
Over-responsiveness is categorized as an exaggerated response of the nervous system to sensory input. One common type of over-responsivity is motion sickness. People who are over-sensitivity to their vestibular sense may develop motion sickness as a response to fast movement. During an over-responsiveness behavior, the nervous system goes into “fight or flight” mode even when there is no real danger present but the brain perceives it as such. They feel as if they are being constantly bombarded with information.
Common symptoms of over-responsiveness behavior include:
as infants: fussy, startles easily, delayed motor skills, doesn’t like to be held
picky eating habits
in regards to clothing: doesn’t like tags or certain fabrics
Under-responsiveness is the opposite of over-responsiveness. This is the lack of response to environmental stimuli. Children might be “checked out” or “day dreaming”. Or they are very unfocused on what is happening around them. They also tend to be uncoordinated and may have difficulty with fine motor skills.
Common symptoms of under-responsiveness behavior include:
as infants: delayed motor skills development, drooling, lack of response to sight and sounds
love spicy and salty foods
unkempt and messy
distant, daydreaming, checked out
high pain tolerance, doesn’t notice cuts or bruises
low muscles tone, bad posture
The nervous system of a sensory seeking child needs intense and frequent input in order for the sensation to even be processed by the brain.
Common symptoms for sensory seeking behavior include:
as infants: love movement, roughhousing, happiest in stimulating environments
crave salty, spicy, sticky or crunchy food
always in motion
throws self on the ground
runs, skips or jumps rather than walks
difficulty sitting still
touches everything, puts things in mouth
poor attention span
If you feel that your child is suffering from Sub Type 1 of Sensory Processing Disorder: Sensory Modulation Disorder, then you should contact an occupational therapist. In a fun and safe atmosphere, you can work on sensory integration therapy to help them with their difficulties. If these issues are not addressed early on adults with Sensory Modulation Disorder can develop depression, anxiety, mood swings and become reclusive.