Sensory Integration vs. ADHD | ADHD Information





Yes, there can sometimes be a mis dx of add when the problem is really SI. If I were you, I would ask for an eval from an occupational therapist from your doc, or just find one that takes your insurance and get an eval anyway.

Basically the difference is that adhd is a disorder where the part of the brain that releases the chemical that helps us to focus and be calm isn't working (stimulants actually 'stimulate' this part of the brain to send out the chemicals that calm us down and help us focus). SI, on the other hand, is a disorder where the brain interprets stimuli in an over or under exaggerated way, causing a kind-of sensory overload that leads to changed behavior or acting out.

An occupational therapist is the best person to see if you think your kiddo has SI.


*Cajunkitten--I forget to mention the "telltale" SID item for us, TAGS, TAGS, TAGS!!!  My son started ripping tags out of his clothes from the time he was a baby he tried to rip them out.  Last time he went to school wearing a shirt that I forgot to remove the tag out of, he cut it out himself along with a couple of chunks of the shirt!!  Some other clothing items I had problems with:  socks--most of them hurt his feet.  Check the insides of socks, see if the stitching is smooth;  shoes--he couldn't tolerate anything on his feet except plain rubber "mud" boots, (these turned out to be good O.T. for him); shirts & pants--he couldn't tolerate any synthetic materials like some of the "pull-on" pants/shirts are made out of, suprisingly, regular blue jeans worked best, & cotton shirts.  Any material that "pills" with washing is pure hell for him.  Yes, crowds like the school cafeteria are really hard to deal with.  This is a "combo" of both the ADHD & SID.  It is not just the noise(SID) but he has difficulty screening out background noise(ADHD).  I hope this is of some more help to all.  God Bless & Good Luck.  Jesse'sMomCAK   

I don't know if it is sensory integration, or just part of ADHD, but all of the people in my H's family who have ADHD, have heightened senses.

The sensitivity to tags and socks is common in ADHD. Also- hyperacusia which is sensitivity and extreme distractibility to sounds. My H has an extremely sensitive nose. 3 of the ADHD affected children in his family tree are extremely sensitive to taste, to the point where most of their diet consists of "white" foods- carbs like bread, potatoes and noodles. Maybe these guys have SI as well, but they don't show other symptoms- for example they have good balance and good fine motor skills. So I am not sure where ADHD ends and SI starts, but in our extended family, most of our ADHDers (seven of them spanning 3 generations) have some sensory issues too.

setauket38328.8280902778 Wow! This might explain some of my son's reactions to textures and sounds. He can not tolerate the loudness of ,say, the school cafeteria or a train and tags on his clothes are intolerable also. If he gets a haircut his neck hurts. these are some of the things that sound like SID. He might have both and I think I'll get him tested. Thanks for opening this topic .My son was diagnosised at 6 with both ADHD and SI. Occuptaional Therapy was the best. He was actually starting to eat different foods and stop chewing on his shirts unitl he put a hole in them. He was a totally different child with the therapy. Then the insurance stopped paying and we had to stop, didn't have the money to conitnue 3 hours a week. within a few weeks we noticed a difference and so did his teacher. We learned a lot about his different behaviors. A good book to read is  the out of syn child.  As I read the first chapter I started to cry because it was describing my son.  He is now 8 and we are still trying to find out what is going on; he has been on ritalin, adderall, concerta and now strattera and while they work to some point they don't help him in school (other than calming him down). He no longer receinves OT, the school doesn't think that it's the SI that is hurting his ability to learn.  He is doing ok in school at times.  His pediatrician has been going over all the previous testing and re-doing some and now is starting to lean towards Aspergers with SI and mild ADHD.  I have noticed that the 3 have many of the same characteristics.They have many of the same characteristics and are also treated in a very similar way. I wouldn't worry too much about the name of the disorder. In reality every doctor will come up with a different diagnoses so if you find something that works stick with it. If the OT was showing the greatest benefits I'd definately start back up on that. Sometimes a letter from your doctor to the insurance company stating that the therapy is reguired is all it takes for them to start paying again.

My child was first diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder.  We worked with  an OT to give my child a daily sensory diet.  The interesting thing that she told us, that may be of interest to you, was that all children who have ADD or ADHD -and- all children who are autistic, have sensory processing issues.

My child was later diagnosed with ADHD and finally Asperger's which is a high functioning autism.  He definately has sensory issues, and all the training we initially received has been very helpful. 


Hi:  My son was diagnosed with both ADHD & a Sensory Intregration Disorder.  He has & is receiving services for both.  I find that many people, i.e. teachers, doctors, "downplay" or disregard his sensory intregration disorder.  It is real, & can affect his actions/reactions.  I was told that if he received O.T. for this at a young enough age, the brain would learn to correctly process the sensory signals that it was receiving.  Sensory issues are issues related to the 5 senses:  touch, sight, sound, taste, & smell.  For example, cool water might be interped as too hot.  Certain clothing might actually hurt & be intolerable.  Certain sounds might be intolerable.  Certain types of light might really throw your child off.  Certain oders might upset your child, i.e. some people cannot tolerate any scented soaps, dishsoap, laundry soap.  Textures & certain tastes of food might be intolerable, i.e. something sweet might taste sour.  There are sensory "test" or questions that you can answer to pinpoint more what areas your child has issues with.  ADHD also has different types & areas to determine how your child is.  These are issues such as the implusiveness,  inability to focus, unable to sit, staying up all night.  Now here is the problem:  there is not a clear line that you can say "this is because of the ADHD"  or "this is because of the Sensory Intregration Disorder".  You know your child best.  If he seems to be reacting to a situation, try to focus in & see if something sensory might be causing it. 

I hope this is of some help to you.  God Bless & Good Luck!   Jesse'sMomCAK   

so glad you brought this topic up! I have been diagnosed with SID,as has my son(also an ADHDer)..the best thing you can do is get your child in to see a good occupational therapist-you'll be amazed at what you learn! As with so many issues,school seems to be the place where SID really becomes a problem..what helps me is to try and keep my sense of humor about it. At the movies,if someone as far back as four or five rows is unwrapping candy,chewing popcorn loudly,etc,I start to twitch-can't stand the feeling of scratchy lace,etc on my skin-well,you get the picture.It can verge on ridiculous! Hang in there and best of luck to you.

Does anyone else's child yell "THE TAG....THE TAG"  because it is still in the back of his shirt???

I also find some socks drive him insane.

LOL yep tags, sock fuzzies they drive me crazy. Also if something is twisted like my sock or pajama pants I like it straight, smooth and comfortable.