#5K – SENSORY INTEGRATION (a. Sensory Room, b. Sensory Activities)
Classic Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT), according to the meta-analysis reported on by Leong, et al. (2014), delivers intervention for an individual in a small group session. Various forms of sensory stimulation are used, such as the individual being rubbed with brushes or other textured items. Or, being swung or spun in a hammock, being rocked back and forth while lying on a gym ball; or being moved on a scooter board. There could be joint compression from wrist weights. Different practices, interpretations and theories have been explored since the A. Jean Ayres’ Sensory Integration strategies began to be known in 1972.
< My Thoughts > “…Various forms of sensory stimulation are used.”
The sensory stimulations being used are determined from the various forms of sensory information derived from the person’s ‘sensory profile’. From there, the therapist develops a ‘sensory diet’ of sensory-based activities for home and for school. For instance, some integration activities might be developed to help the person with sensory seeking stimulation needs, sensory avoidance or aversion situations, and/or sensory balance requirements.
Thompson (2012) tells us that the Ayers’ method of satisfying sensory needs through sensory integration ranged from the calming input of massage and weighted vests, to listening to music to which massages the middle ear hair cells in the cochlea. These various sensory-based stimulation techniques are incorporated into programs or used in isolation.
< My Thoughts > “…incorporated into programs or used in isolation.”
One of A.Jean Ayers' early publications was Improving Academic Scores Through Sensory Integration; Journal of Learning Disabilities (1972). This article described her idea that ‘identifiable types of sensory integrative dysfunction’ could be included in a remedial program. Thus improving a students’ learning and academic performance by changing unwanted sensory responses. The Ayers’ method is well known among therapists and teachers alike.
Others, such as Winnie Dunn, with her ‘Sensory Profile’, added to the development of a child’s sensory processing abilities and/or disabilities. Dunn felt that these undesirable sensory responses, plus the individual’s temperament, may negatively impact their daily life as well as their academic learning.
The Dunn Sensory Profile is intended to create a comprehensive picture of the person’s sensory performance; thus combined with other data will help with diagnostic and intervention planning. You can have a look at one assessment portfolio on this website – Retrieved from – https://otforchildrenassessmentportfolio.blogspot.com/2013/04/sensory-profile.html
Sensory integration, according to a study made through the University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and explained by Doumas, et al. (2015) saying that sensi-motor control processes affect the person with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We receive sensory information from three main channels, our eyes, our ears, and our touch. These authors state that control in a task does not rely equally on all three channels simultaneously, but rather on information from the channel relied upon most for information.
For instance, one uses their sight to see where they are going, until it becomes dark. Then the other two sensory channels of hearing and touch are relied upon, or needed the most for sensory information because there is no longer reliable visual information available in the dark.
< My Thoughts > “We receive sensory information from three main channels.”
Sensory information impairments are now part of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). This includes ‘hyper’ or ‘hypo’ reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment. It is known that impaired sensory processing or deficits in sensory channels make it difficult for children with ASD to perform ordinary tasks. Considerably more difficult than for those typically developing (TD) children and adults.
Author Amelia Tiedemann tell us that the A. Jean Ayres' definition of ‘sensory integration’ as the neurological process that organizes sensations from one's body and from the environment. In order to thrive within the environment, one’s body must make the appropriate adaptive responses. To direct the body, the brain must register, select, interpret, compare, and associate sensory information in a flexible, constantly-changing pattern,” Ayres (1989).
Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Cara Koscinski asks you to close your eyes and imagine yourself swinging on a warm sunny day. Feel the breeze blowing past you and the fluttering butterflies in your stomach as the swing reaches its highest point. The freedom of flying sensation is why swings continue to be used by therapists, and remain the staple in backyards and playgrounds all over the world. Retrieved online from: https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/sensory-swings-autism
Yet another explanation of Sensory Integration refers to how people use the information provided by all the sensations coming from within and from outside the body and from the external environment. We usually think of the senses as separate channels of information, but they actually work together to give us a reliable picture of the world and our place in it. Your senses integrate to form a complete understanding of who you are, where you are, and what is happening around you. Because your brain uses information about sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes, and movement in an organized way, you assign meaning to your sensory experiences. Retrieved from: https://www.familyeducation.com/school/sensory-integration-dysfunction/what-sensory-integration
< My Thoughts > “…assign meaning to your sensory experiences…”
Thompson (2012) states that there is no consistent evidence that sensory-based treatments have specific lasting effects on the behavior of children or adults with ASD. But, he says the lack of evidence does not necessarily prove that a treatment is ineffective…
While Leong, et al (2014) thinks that the problem of authenticating the value of Sensory Integration Therapy may lie with the integrity of the trials, or with ‘pre’ and ‘post’ test validity. They point out that the difference could also be with the state of brain ‘plasticity’ of the child/adult receiving the therapy.
Just as there are hundreds of thousands of educators trying to make a difference in the world, there are just as many therapists trying to do the same. Some students are lifelong learners, while some just want to attain a certain level to get by. Those on the Autism Spectrum may feel the same way, according to their personality, temperament, and abilities. I applaud the teachers and therapists who continue to find ways to give those in their path the opportunity to move toward greater independence. Just saying.
< My Thoughts > “…the opportunity to move toward greater independence.”
Ever wonder why your child does the things s/he does? How many times have you said in frustration – “Why in the world did you just do that?” Seems that some of us have five thumbs, while others have green thumbs. It all may be about our sensory perception of the world. Some of us are destined to take a chance, those are the risk-takers.
While others of us spend life on the sidelines, observing from afar. Take this one step farther and think about what it must be like to have Sensory Processing Disorder. Either your world is filled with exciting opportunities… or, your world if filled with one terrifying event after another. Just saying…
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