What is Sensory Integration Therapy?

A child fails to respond with pain when inflicted with it. The girl reacts in an overly manner as if she is being hit or slap when she is actually being touched gently. A boy ceaselessly walks up and down, runs every where, seem agitated exceedingly, and hyperactive. She moves sluggishly, as if she is always tired, has not taken any food to eat, and lack sleep. At school, these children though intelligent have difficulty holding things like books, pencils, bags, and other school supplies. Definitely, not able to hold things, they cannot write and draw well. They understand the lessons but fail in their written tests.

The manifestations shown by the kids above are symptoms of sensory integrative dysfunction. It is also referred to as sensory integrative disorder. It involves the five (5) senses which fail to function in their purpose. It means that the senses cannot react correctly to any stimulus because in the processing of data - what is happening in the environment including to him/her - the nervous system fails to detect it.

There is a program or an intervention to treat this ailment which is called sensory integration therapy. The professional who is administering this case is the occupational therapist who will devise the treatment after conducting an assessment of the patient. Usually, the plan begins with what the child possesses positively as far as his/her senses are concerned. From then on, the program proceeds to stimulate the senses with the aim to capacitate the nervous system to function rightly. Planned activities are to be scheduled for the child until such time the brain can understand what is happening in the environment of the child and process it accurately. The growth of the child then undergoes the usual development stages until the sensory aspect becomes fully matured.

In designing the planned activities of the child, it is important to let her/him participate to make it easier for the two persons involved and thereby hit the objective. The occupational practitioner comes up with activities that will cause for the child to respond appropriately. This is usually done by using play as a medium. As such, it acts as stimulus.

Sensory Integration Therapy Tools

There are toys which are deliberately designed to stimulate response from the child. Examples of these toys are huge sphere- shaped toys like balls or globes. Trampolines are also excellent as the child can use it for jumping safely. Equipment that is good for suspending can also be used. These toys are obviously big and attention getting that a child is encourage to touch it. When these toys are used by the child these have an effect on the sensory nerve ending in muscles, tendons and joints which are great stimuli for the body. The child's sensitivity to stimuli is being enhanced. This is also applied to stimulate the vestibules which are found in the portion of the mouth which serves as canal, so with the ear's cavity. The sense of touch is also being stimulated.

The professional expert sees to it that in the activities to be designed, these are accompanied with large toys because these serve as a come on for the child to use. Slowly the activities are also getting harder and better until such time that the child's senses are all developed to function well.

It is very important for the occupational therapist and the family of the child to work together and be consistent. They must see to it that they have specific goals and expected results which can be measured for each activity identified and carried out. With this kind of setting, the child will obviously see the consistency of the therapist and the family and the child will not be confused and left dazed but fully understands the set-up.

More Help

  1. Sensory Integration Resource Center- A tremendous resource!