Sensory processing is the “procedure in which we take in sensory messages from our bodies and surroundings. Then we interpret these messages and organize our purposeful responses. This occurs when information about sensations is passed back and forth between the central nervous system (CNS) and nerves in the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system with the nerves that are outside the CNS”.

What is sensory integration therapy?

You may have heard a lot about sensory integration therapy. That’s because some researchers estimate that eight out of 10 children with autism have problems processing sensory input. For example, they can’t filter out background noise. Other signs of processing issues include:
– Problems with balance
– Problems with body position in space
– Oversensitivity to touch and the feel of certain types of clothing, such as socks with seams
– With autism, social, behavioral, or attention problems can be partly a result of these sensory challenges.

Although more research is needed, OT can help with sensory integration and some of the related behavioral problems. Research suggests sensory integration therapy is less helpful in improving academic performance.

For some individuals, especially those with an autism spectrum disorder, there may be sensory processing dysfunctions or difficulties. This is the “inability to respond appropriately to ordinary experiences and occurs when the CNS processes sensations inefficiently”. Presently there is not one specific cause for sensory dysfunction, but it can cause tremendous misperception from those who support these individuals. Children with ASD may often experience an inability to respond ‘appropriately’ and be seen as having challenging behaviors or obsessions. Basically the degree and intensity of the input/output don’t match.

Goal of sensory integration: The goal of sensory integrative therapy is to facilitate the development of the nervous system’s ability to process sensory input in a more normal way.Basically everything we do requires sensory integration.This normal process can be missing or very badly organized in some people, notably autistic individuals.

Our goals of treatment are to improve sensory modulation related to behavior and attention and to increase abilities for social interactions, academic skills, and independence through better SI. The activities provided are meant to help the nervous system modulate, organize, and integrate information from the environment, resulting in future adaptive responses.

Examples of sensory integration therapy include:

– Being brushed or deeply touched and massaged

– Compressing elbows and knees

– Swinging

– Spinning on a scooter

– Wearing a weighted vest