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  • Qeady Design

The importance of Sensory Integration and the need for Occupational Therapy.

Sensory integration is the organization of the sensations we receive in our body and the environment around us.

Many families, when they come to our office for a first assessment because “their child constantly trips and falls”, “puts objects in his mouth continuously”, “cries at any noise”, need us to answer many of their questions about why this happens to them. And our answer is usually that they need to be assessed for the need of a sensory integration treatment… But what is that? Here we give you more information about it.

The term “sensory integration”

refers both to a conceptual framework within the occupational therapy profession and to a neurological process. As a conceptual framework, sensory integration theory is based on the latest knowledge in neuroscience.

It is very useful to understand multiple and diverse problems of learning, behavior, development and motor incoordination, such as hyperactivity, difficulties in school insertion, in relating and communicating, or those affecting the feeding process. More than a specific technique, it is a therapeutic approach… Sensory integration is responsible for organizing the sensations that we receive from our bodies and the environment and that allows us to respond appropriately to the demands presented to us in our daily tasks.

Sensory processing and integration is a fundamental basis for the development of daily living skills, social-emotional development, motor functioning and complex learning. The key sensory systems for these functions are visual, vestibular (movement), proprioceptive (body awareness), tactile and auditory.

It should be noted that the processing and interpretation of sensory stimuli is always context dependent. People with learning, developmental, behavioral or participation problems in their activities of daily living are likely to have sensory integration problems that contribute to their difficulties.

Here are some signs that may alert us to the presence of a sensory integration problem:

  • Hyperreactivity to touch, movement, visual stimuli or sounds.

  • Hyper-reactivity to sensory stimuli.

  • Unusually high or low activity level.

  • Coordination problems.

  • Delayed speech, language, motor skills or academic performance.

  • Poor organization of behavior.

  • Poor self-esteem.

Typically, a child with sensory integration disorder will have more than one of these signs. Occupational therapy based on the sensory integration approach is carried out through activities that are fun, meaningful and internally motivating for the person. It is an intervention that includes multiple sensory-motor stimuli in the context of challenges adapted to each individual. For a child it represents a fun play session. For the occupational therapist it represents a complex exercise of clinical reasoning based on extensive neurological knowledge.

Sensory integration work allows for more efficient occupational participation in the home, school and community:

  • Increased initiation and participation in play.

  • Improved social interactions and attention.

  • Regulation of activity levels.

  • Increased abilities to participate in complex activities.

  • Initiative, creativity

  • Increased confidence in skills

  • Improved gross and fine motor skills

  • Improved literacy and general learning skills

If you are not sure what direction you should go, feel free to contact us.

We would be delighted to help you.

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