Sensory integration therapy is one considered helpful as part of a multidisciplinary approach to autism spectrum disorders, some types of learning disabilities, and sensory hypersensitivity in general. This article gives an overview of the philosophy behind sensory integration therapy.
Most people are familiar with the basic five senses, but are less aware of the roles of movement and the sense of body position in learning and daily functioning. The sense of movement is also referred to as the vestibular sense, which responds to body movement through space and change in head position. Another name for sense of body position is proprioception.
Three of the senses, tactile (touch), vestibular, and proprioception, are closely related and need to work together smoothly for proper functioning and motor planning. Sensory integration is a term that describes the organization, or interconnection, of these senses.
Signs of Sensory Integrative Dysfunction
Signs of Sensory Integrative Dysfunction are listed below. It is suggested that a youngster with a sensory integration disorder generally demonstrates more than one of these characteristics.
- Overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
- Under-reactive to sensory stimulation
- Activity level that is unusually high or unusually low
- Coordination problems
- Delays in speech, language, motor skills, or academic achievement
- Poor organization of behavior
- Poor self-concept
What Can Parents Do?
If you suspect that your child has a sensory integration disorder, you should arrange for an evaluation by a qualified physical therapist or occupational therapist. An evaluation will provide you with information regarding responses to sensory stimulation, balance, coordination, posture and eye movement. The therapist will seek to develop an understanding of your child’s visual perception, sense of touch, movement and body position, eye-hand coordination, and motor-planning ability. Therapeutic interventions will be prescribed, if indicated.