Pediatrics Unlimited Inc
Be the Best you Can BEE with Therapy

Children learn through registering, integrating, modulating, and using sensory information.  We receive stimuli through our senses of touch, taste, sound, sight and smell.  We also receive stimuli through three less recognized senses:  tactile sense through our skin receptors; vestibular sense through our inner ear and proprioceptive sense through our joints, ligaments and muscles.  Sensory Integration Therapy is  one of the many frames of reference that can be useful in meeting the needs of children.  A. Jean Ayres(1972,1979) developed sensory integration theory in response to her hypothesis that learning and behavior are related to the neurobiological ability of the individual's central nervous system to process sensory information and respond adaptively with a motor plan, also called praxis.  Central nervous system plasticity and tremendous brain growth and change occurs at younger ages, therefore, Ayres believed that Occupational Therapists may influence a child's long term ability to cope and respond th the everyday sensory and motor challenges in the environment. 

Humans are born with only 25% of their brain weight.  Between the ages of 4 and 5, the brain reaches approximately 80% of it's weight.  The sensory areas that control hearing, sight and touch mature during the first year of life.  The part of the brain that controls speech-motor skills doesn't reach maturity until around 8 years of age.  The area of the bain which is involved in short-term memory is called the hippocampus.  The hippocampus is thought to be fully mature by 18 months of age.  However, the prefontal cortex of the brain, which controls judgment and reasoning, matures between 16 and 22 years of age.

Sensory Integration in the ClinicSensory Integration at Home

According to the theory developed by A. Jean Ayres, a setting is needed in which a therapist and child can engage in spontaneous play; where the child has the freedom of whole-body movement in all planes, and the therapist has the ability to adjust the equipment to provide various degrees of complexity in the adaptive response to a sensory or motor challenge.  A carefully designed clinic is able to meet those needs and in fact is essential for the delivery of sensory integration treatment. 

In the direct therapy setting an SI treatment approach addresses the physiological issues and neurological issues that affect a child's participation in areas of occupation such as self help; education; play and social participation.  Therapists work 1:1 or in small groups to provide intensive therapy services. During direct intervention the child engages in meaningful acitvity while the therapist controls the sensory influences upon muscles, joints, skin and the vestibular apparatus.

A means of suspension is essential when sensory integration theory and principles are used in treatment. 

A family's quality of life can be significantly affected when one or more children have a Sensory Integration Dysfunction.  Parents are often puzzled and stressed by children who cannot sit still; withdraw from touch; can not tolerate noisy crowds and/or bright lights or throw tantrums over shirt tags and sock seams.

Parents are sometimes blamed for a child's misbehavior or for not being able to control their child.  Some parents begin to question their parenting skills.  SI problems are not the result of ineffective parenting.

A sensory diet may be planned for the child to use at home.  This is similar to an "exercise program".  A sensory diet details a schedule of activities that a child should engage in to receive the righ amount of sensory input.  A sensory diet will help a child maintain a "just right" state and therefore engage in optimal performance.



Sensory Integration in the Classroom

Some children may receive therapy services in the school  The school based therapy services should help the student receive a free and appropriate public education.  Children attend school to get an education; not to receive therapy.  However, by meeting the sensory needs incidentally throughout the day, the child's ability to engage in productive use of time will most likely increase.  


Powered by