Sensory Integration Therapy to Help Your Child Be in Command of His or Her World
At South Shore Therapies, we offer high-quality therapy services with state of the art sensory gyms and equipment. We utilize the principles of development, neuroscience, and therapeutic activities to help children achieve independence and fulfillment.
"The ultimate goal of sensory integrative treatment is a being which wants to, can, and will direct himself meaningfully and with satisfaction in response to the environmental demands.”
- Jean Ayres
What Is Sensory Integration?
Every day, we receive a great deal of information from our senses that we use to organize our behavior, learn, and successfully interact with the world. Our senses give us input about the physical status of our body and the environment around us. Sensory experiences include touch, taste, smell, sight, sound, body awareness, movement, and the pull of gravity.
Our brains must organize this information so that we can function in everyday situations such as the classroom, at work, on the playground, at home, and during social interactions. Sensory integration is this ongoing process within the nervous system of taking in and responding to sensory events. It is truly amazing that one brain can organize input from all senses simultaneously, and still come up with a response to the demands of the environment.
The central nervous system is constantly focusing, screening, sorting, and responding to sensory information both from the external environment and from internal receptors in order to perform purposeful activities. Imagine the amount of sensory integration needed to sit in a chair, pay attention in an active classroom, copy an assignment, or stand and read out loud to the class! Our occupational therapists are well equipped to handle the complex needs of children with sensory processing disorders.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) occurs when the nervous system cannot effectively take in, process and respond to the sensory information from within the body and the surrounding environment. Children with SPD may perceive sensory information in a way that is different from most others. The result can be unusual ways of responding or behaving, and struggles with learning new skills. Difficulties may result in challenges participating in activities of everyday life, and for some with extreme sensitivity or sensory defensiveness, avoidance of interactions and activities, agitation, distress or anxiety. If you feel your child may be experiencing difficulties effectively processing sensations and it is impacting your daily life, call our office for a free phone intake. You will speak with one of our skilled occupational therapists who can help guide you to a better understanding of your child and determine the most appropriate course of action.
Sensory Integrative Disorders
|Sensory Problem||Signs or Behavior|
|Overly sensitive to touch, movements, sights, or sounds:||Behavior issues include being distractible, withdrawal when touched, avoidance of textures, certain clothes, foods, and the exhibition of fearful reactions to ordinary movement activities such as playground play. Sensitive to loud noises. May act out aggressively with unexpected sensory input.|
|Under reactive to sensory stimulation:||Seeks out intense sensory experiences such as body whirling, falling, and crashing into objects. May appear oblivious to pain or body position. May fluctuate between under- and over-responsiveness.|
|Unusually high/low activity level:||Constantly on the move or may be slow to get going, and fatigues easily|
|Coordination problems:||May have poor balance, may have great difficulty learning a new task that requires motor coordination, appears awkward, stiff, or clumsy.|
|Delays in academic achievement or activities of daily living:||May have problems in academic areas, despite normal or above normal intelligence. Problems with handwriting, scissor use, tying shoes, buttoning, and zipping clothes.|
|Poor organization of behavior:||May be impulsive, distractible, lack of planning in approach to tasks, does not anticipate the result of actions. May have difficulty adjusting to a new situation or following directions. May get frustrated, aggressive, or withdraw when they encounter failure.|
|Poor self concept:||May appear lazy, bored, or unmotivated. May avoid tasks and appear stubborn or troublesome.|
Sensory Integration Intervention
Occupational therapists with training in sensory integration provide therapeutic activities to facilitate child-directed therapy sessions, as children learn through experience and play. The therapist designs an environment to enable the child to interact more effectively.
Child’s Motivation Important in Choosing Activities
Following an assessment of the child's sensory systems, the therapist encourages and assists the child in choosing activities that provide the appropriate amount of sensory input. Throughout the activity the therapist adapts the skill level in appropriate developmental increments to facilitate integration. One important aspect of therapy that uses a sensory integrative approach is that the motivation of the child plays a crucial role in the selection of the activities.
Structure vs Freedom
In sensory integration intervention, the therapist creates a careful balance between structure and freedom in a way that leads to constructive exploration. This balance is not easily achieved. Free play does not inevitably, in itself, further sensory integration. If it did, many children with dysfunction would have solved their own problems.
But too much structure does not allow growth either. With this balance of structure and freedom, the therapist helps the child to develop both his neural organization and his inner direction. The child is given as much control over therapy as he can handle, with the therapist aiding and assisting to keep the activity at an appropriate challenge level.
Self-Confidence Leads to Better Control of One’s Own World
Self-confidence, or an improved attitude about one's self, is often the first change parents notice in their children after they have started therapy. The child becomes more in command of his life and world because he develops better control of his body as his nervous system functions more efficiently.