What is Sensory Integration?
Children with sensory integration dysfunction frequently experience problems with their sense of touch, smell, hearing, taste and/or sight. Along with this they often face difficulties in movement, coordination, and sensing where one’s body is in a given space. This is a common disorder for individuals with neurological conditions such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Individuals may be overly sensitive to certain textures, sounds, smells and tastes, while wearing certain fabrics, tasting certain foods or normal everyday sounds may cause discomfort.
The opposite is also possible – for example, a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder may feel little pain or actually enjoys sensations that a Neurotypical children would dislike: strong smells, intense color unpleasant tastes. The brain seems unable to balance the senses appropriately in cases of Sensory Integration Dysfunction. A specially designed room is used for therapy sessions, to stimulate and challenge all the senses. During the session, therapist works closely with the child to encourage muscle movement. The therapy is driven by four main principles:
*Just Right Challenge (Child must be able to meet the challenges through playful activities)
*Adaptive Response (Child adapts behaviours to meet the challenges presented)
- Active Engagement (Child should willingly participate because the activities are fun) *Child-directed (Activities preferred by the child should be used in the session. Children with lower sensitivity (hyposensitivity) may be exposed to strong sensations, while children with heightened sensitivity (hypersensitivity) may be exposed to quieter activities. Treats and rewards may be used to encourage children to tolerate activities they normally avoid The theory of Sensory Integration (SI) was developed in 1960 by Dr. A. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist who was a pioneer in learning disability treatment. She defined SI as; Capacity of the body to organize sensory input, information, and stimulation a person receives from his/her own body and the environment through the different sensory system
- Tactile (Touch)
- Proprioceptive (Joint and impulses)
- Vestibular (Movement, visual, auditory )
- Hearing and listening/auditory
This sensory information is then processed by the central nervous system and is used to help our body to develop spatial awareness, muscle tone, postural stability, and self-regulation. SI gives us the awareness of our body and the ability to use it as a tool to interact with others in our world.
- For those with sensory integration Dysfunction, their brain is not able to process and organize the flow of sensory impulses properly. This can impact on a person’s functional, developmental and learning processes.
- Extremely sensitive to touch, movement sights and sounds
- Easily distractible.
- Decreased awareness of surroundings
- Activity level that is unusually high or unusually lowImpulsive, lacking in self-control.
- Inability to unwind or calm self.Poor self-concept.*Social and/or emotional problems.
- Physical clumsiness or apparent carelessness.
- Difficulty in making transitions from one situation to another.
- Delays in speech, language or motor skills.
- Delays in academic achievements
- Slow reaction to touch, movements, sights or sounds.
A typical SI/OT Session
- To provide the right kind of sensory stimulations for normalizing the sensory systems
Proprioceptive Corporative, auditory and visual
What is the role of sensory integration in providing assistance?
- Sensory integration is the process of organizing analyzing, and integrating sensory information from the body and environment.
In short, this is about how our senses interpret, analyze, and react to information that enters our ears, or not. Sensory integration is necessary for every daily job we have to perform, including eating, moving around, learning, working, and getting dressed.
- better motor planning skills, self-regulation, improved function in the home, community, and classroom; increased independence with ADLs; optimal functional ability to carry out everyday and recreational activities; and modulation of sensory systems.
- Creating customized home programs that are realistic, well-planned, and predicated on the idea that regulated sensory input can impact functional capacities is known as a sensory diet.
Sensory Diet Explanation
The two ways that the sensory diet therapy plan addresses sensory defensiveness are by using sensation in a therapeutic manner within the framework of daily activities:
(1) the recognition and inclusion of sensory-rich activities that are most likely to decrease protective habits into daily routines; (2) alterations to the environment that improve optimum functioning and decrease interruption.
The cornerstone of the sensory diet is regular provision of sensory-based activities.
The exercises are selected to highlight proprioception, deep pressure, and movement as examples of sensory inputs.
- In addition, other techniques (including oral and respiratory) can be employed, especially to achieve and preserve arousal state management.
- When implementing this program, it’s critical to consider an activity’s ability to induce adaptation as well as the potential duration of its behavioral effects.
- Short activities that offer a particular kind of sensory input are possible, or play, leisure, or work activities might be used to adapt.
- In order to encourage optimal performance and minimize disturbance, the sensory diet also incorporates environmental adaptation.To lessen the anguish and discomfort that frequently accompany everyday routines (such as dressing, bathing, and transitions), for instance, adjustments are routinely made. These changes may include sensory exercises that are done beforehand or simply changing the patterns that involves these activities are done.
- Caregivers are additionally shown how to create predictable routines and predictable environments by minimizing sensory stimulants such as sounds, scents, and visual distractions.
- These recommendations need to be tailored to each person’s specific challenges.
Sensory Integration Techniques
Weighted blankets, swinging, brushing, deep pressure, massage, joint compression, vestibular stimulation, and methods based on auditory integration. Play-based therapy sessions may involve the use of toys like swings, trampolines, and slides. Therapies including deep pressure, brushing, weighted vests, and swinging are also used in sensory integration.
Impact on Daily Functioning
Sensory integration is important in all the things that we need to do on a daily basis, such as getting dressed, eating, moving around, socialising, learning and working. Sensory information is received from our senses, which include: Vision, Auditory, Touch, Proprioception, Vestibular, Gustatory, Olfactory and Interoception senses. If there’s any issue with the sensory integration process the child will have a reduced performance in the day to day routines and functioning of the child.