Sensory integration therapy is a branch of occupational therapy that treats children with behavioral and developmental disorders. This kind of therapy is normally performed by a physical therapist or an occupational therapist.
What is sensory integration disorder?
Sensory integration disorder primarily refers to the “inability to modulate, discriminate, coordinate or organize sensation adaptively”. Symptoms of sensory integration disorder are hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity towards external stimuli.
For instance, an autistic child (who has sensory disorder) may not respond towards taste, touch and sounds like that of a normal developing child. The autistic child may think that the sound volume of a television is too high. In reality, the sound volume is perfectly normal.
Sensory integration therapy – How does it work?
Several adults and children have problems in processing sensory information. For example, touch, movement, smell, sound, sight, etc. Sensory integration therapy analyzes all the problems and applies various kinds of techniques (mainly motor skill and sensory exercises) to help individuals respond towards the external stimuli properly. This type of therapy essentially helps individuals to grasp information through various senses and process it in the mind.
Sensory integration therapy primarily focus on these areas:
- Sense of body position
- Sense of movement
- Sense of touch
Sensory integration (SI) therapy is given in the form of physical education, gymnastics and movement education. The child performs various kinds of exercises that help him/her to respond properly to sensory data.
Usually, the SI therapy does not train certain cognitive skills. Nevertheless, research shows that cognitive weakness is one of the major reasons behind sensory integration disorders. Traditional therapy exercises may be quite effective for motor skill retraining. However, prolonged treatment of sensory integration disorders should consist of correct evaluation of integrative cognitive skills and training.