WHAT IS SENSORY INTEGRATION?
The term ‘sensory integration’ refers to the processing, integration, and organisation of sensory information from the body and environment.
So this means how we experience, interpret and react to (or ignore) information coming from our senses. Sensory integration is important for all things that we need to do on a daily basis, such as getting dressed, eating, moving around, socialising, learning and working.
Sensory information is received from our different senses, which include:
- Hearing (auditory system)
- Sight (visual system)
- Touch (tactile system)
- Smell (olfactory system)
- Taste (gustatory system)
- Vestibular ( awareness of movement, balance and co ordination)
- Proprioception ( sense of body awareness and position)
- Interoception ( what is happening inside our body)
The understanding of sensory integration was initially developed in 60s and 70s by Dr A.Jean Ayers, who was an occupational therapist and psychologist. She defined sensory integration as:
“The neurological process that organises sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively with the environment.” (1972)
Some children and young people struggle with sensations around them. This can then affect how they interact with the world around them.
Sometimes this can come out as a range of behaviour including:
- Always on the go, needing to continually move - running, spinning, jumping, climbing, this can affect schooling
- Screaming, holding their hands over their ears, hiding, running away, physical aggression which can be a response to touch, light, noises etc
- Easily distracted
- Clumsy, disorganised, finds PE lessons hard, struggles to get dressed in the right order
- Finds multiple instructions hard to follow
- Selective eating of certain foods, colours, textures
Sensory difficulties can run alongside other diagnoses such as Autism, ADHD, learning difficulties.
WHAT IS SENSORY INTEGRATION THERAPY?
Sensory integration therapy should only be carried out by qualified SI practitioner. I receive regular clinical supervision from a sensory integration therapist. Initially an assessment needs to be completed by an SI practitioner. The assessment helps identify any difficulties and from these possible solutions and coping strategies can be explored.
If the assessment highlights specifics sensory difficulties, then sensory integration therapy can be offered to help the nervous system cope with specific sensory input.
The assessment usually consists of face-to-face sessions with parent/ carer, child/ young person, standardised questionnaires, clinical observations and feedback session. A report is also completed with recommendations. It is also possible if appropriate to complete a school observation, but this has an extra cost to the main assessment.
At the feedback session it would be discussed to see if sensory therapy sessions are required, and these can then be arranged and would be carried out in a sensory integration room. They are usually offered in blocks of eight and then reviewed.
Testimonials for Sensory Integration Therapy
The sensory assessment gave us a massive insight into what our son is going through on a daily basis and what type of support he is requiring. The sensory sessions have had a massive positive impact on his and our lives as it means we are able to help him off load some of his sensory over load or if he is under stimulated. Sarah is brilliant at her job and brings so many skills, care, knowledge and devotion to her job. But also how much help and happiness she brings my son by being able to understand and offer this.