Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.”

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.

It is important for us to break the sensory integration dysfunction symptoms down into categories based on each of the senses.These categories are: Tactile: the sense of touch; input from the skin receptors about touch, pressure, temperature, pain and movement of the hairs on the skin. Vestibular: the sense of movement; input from the inner ear about equilibrium, gravitational changes, movement experiences and position in space. Proprioception: the sense of “position”; input from the muscles and joints about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position. Auditory: input relating to sounds; one’s ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to sounds Oral: input relating to the mouth; one’s ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to input within the mouth Olfactory: input relating to smell; one’s ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to different odors. Visual: input relating to sight; one’s ability to correctly perceive, discriminate, process and respond to what one sees.