Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory Integration Therapy is used with individuals who have sensory integration difficulties. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist, first described sensory integration dysfunction as a result of inefficient neurological dysfunction. The auditory, visual, tactile, taste, smell, vestibular and propioceptive senses are what give us information about the world around us. Individuals with sensory processing disorders have senses that are inaccurate and send false messages. Children and adults with hypersensitivity overreact to stimuli, while others have hypo-sensitivity, which prevents them from picking up information through their senses. Sensory malfunction can also be an inability to understand and organize sensory information when it is received.


Sensory integration dysfunction symptoms are many and varied depending on which sense or senses are perturbed. When he has auditory sensitivities a child may cover his ears, overreact or underreact to noise, or try to escape from groups. Tactile sensitivities can be indicated by a seemingly high tolerance for pain, refusal to keep socks and shoes and sometimes clothes on, difficulty in brushing teeth and hair, dislike of having hair washed. Visual issues may be apparent if a child is sensitive to light, likes to watch things spin or move (tops, hands on a clock), spins himself or other things or turns lights on and off. These are a few examples of behaviors that display sensitivities in certain areas; Sensory issues are not autism-specificMany children and adults who have sensory disorders do not have an ASD. Although Sensory Integration Difficulties are not a diagnostic criteria for ASD, practically all adults on the autism spectrum report having some kind of difficulties in sensory processing.


Sensory Integration Therapy is practiced by occupational therapists, who contend that many behaviors exhibited by children and adults with autism are an attempt to avoid certain types of sensations or to seek preferred stimuli, in order to balance out their nervous system. There are different strategies that are used. Occupational therapists who are well trained in sensory integration have designed individual programs and sensory diets that have led to improvements in behavior and skills by assisting individuals with ASDs to process and use sensory information. When looking for therapy providers, it is important that you choose therapy providers who have experience with ASDs and the age group of the person seeking treatment.


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