Sunday, February 24, 2002
Steamboat Springs Having a hypersensitivity to touch; being extra responsive to motion; or being oversensitive or undersensitive to sound. These are a few symptoms of Sensory Integration Dysfunction, or DSI, a disorder that occurs in many children but is hard to diagnose.
DSI occurs when messages from the senses are not correctly processed by the nervous system. It can cause an oversensitivity to touch, movement, sights or sounds, in some cases causing an inability to stay focused. It was first documented in the late 1940s by occupational therapist Jean Ayres.
A special workshop is being organized in Steamboat Springs to education local parents about DSI.
"We are bringing a workshop to town because it's (often) a misdiagnosed problem," said Debbie Young, an organizer of the workshop.
According to Sensory Integration International, a group specializing in this dysfunction, 30 percent of school-aged children are considered learning disabled. Research has shown that up to 70 percent of learning-disabled children can have some form of DSI. However, the dysfunction is found in all age groups and at all intellectual levels.
Furthermore, explained occupational therapist Susan Pfau, no two cases of DSI are alike.
"The only thing they say is consistent about DSI is its inconsistency," she said.
That adds to the difficulty of it being diagnosed. Some doctors diagnose the dysfunction as attention-deficit disorder because the patient has a hard time focusing. Pfau said often in those cases, the person is oversensitive to sound and does not have the ability to block it out and focus on something else.
"It's very hard to diagnose and very hard to treat," Pfau said.
Numerous treatments are available that are meant to control the sense the person is using or underregistering, she said.
The workshop to discuss this disorder runs from 9 to 11 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Hall and will include panel presentations and discussion about DSI from occupational therapists who work with children with DSI and parents of children with the dysfunction.
Young said she would like a mosaic of the health and human services professionals and parents in the community to attend the workshop.
For more information, call 871-4766.