The theories behind sensory integration (SI) were first developed by an occupational therapist and researcher, Jean Ayres. In the U.S. and Canada, many OTs are at least familiar with the principles of SI, although technically to practice it one must have completed special training and attained a certificate from Sensory Integration International. SII will provide parents with a list of trained therapists and evaluators.
Adults with sensory-system dysfunction have often devised all sorts of ways to reduce their exposure to difficult or painful sensations, although this avoidance leads to increased isolation. We know of adults with PDDs who have installed expensive sound-proofing in their homes, who only buy soft cotton clothing, and whose "picky" eating habits have more to do with avoiding unpleasant textures than with taste. These coping strategies are admirable, but anyone who truly wants to break out of old life patterns without experiencing the discomfort of the past can look to SI techniques for help.
Sensory integration work is based on the idea that people with motor or sensory problems have difficulty processing the information their body receives through the various senses. Just as Auditory Integration Training attempts to desensitize the sense of hearing, SI exercises are intended to reduce sensory disturbances related to touch, movement, and gravity. These disturbances can occur in any or all of the following areas:
Processing: how quickly (or if) the sensation reaches the central nervous system to be interpreted.
Analysis: how the person interprets the sensation.
Organization: how the person responds to their analysis of the sensation.
Memory: how (or if) the person remembers similar sensations and proper responses from the past.
Disturbances can occur in either the traditional five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) or in less well-known senses--senses that actually have a greater effect on gross-motor development. SI exercises generally work on the latter. These "whole body" senses are:
Tactile: based in the system created by the entire skin surface and the nerves that serve it, this sense processes information taken in via all types of touch.
Proprioceptive: based in the muscles, ligaments, joints, and the nerves that serve them, this sense information about where the body and its various parts are in space.
Vestibular: based mostly in the inner ear, which acts as a sort of internal carpenter's level, this sense processes information about how the body interacts with gravity as it moves and attempts to retain its balance.
Most of us never think about these senses, unless they are suddenly disordered in some way, such as from an inner-ear infection, a dizziness-producing carnival ride, or a leg that "asleep" and causes stumbling. For many people with PDDs, however, dysfunction in these sensory systems is the norm—in fact, for many it this very sensory dysfunction that is the most pervasive part of the disorder, and that may lead to its most disabling effects. Many behaviors commonly thought of as "autistic," including toe walking, hand-flapping, and rocking, can be attempts to deal with sensory integration dysfunction. Infants and young children learn to interpret the world around them through their senses. If the information comes in all wrong or cannot be processed properly, the world is a confusing place. Imagine trying to pay attention to your mother's lullaby if it sounded like an electric drill, or trying to play with a toy when your clothing was causing intense discomfort. The tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular senses are our most elemental ways to relate to the environment--they're with us from the earliest nervous-system development in the womb. Problems in this area are fundamental, because they interfere with the ability to learn the basic skills that are the building blocks for all others. SI activities are usually quite simple. Special equipment is not a must, although some parents have used swings, hammocks, and small items that can be obtained.
Sensory Integration Strategies, what it is and tips.
In this well developed DVD you will learn: 1. What Sensory Integration is 2. How to spot it. 3. When and how it can interfere with learning 4. What you can do at home and school to help the child 5. General tips and ACTIVITIES that work to over come it, SENSORY INTEGRATION THERAPY!
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