Sensory Integration Therapy: What You Need to Know
Sensory integration therapy aims to help kids with
sensory processing issues (which some people may refer to as “sensory integration disorder”) by exposing them to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive way. The theory behind it is that over time, the brain will adapt and allow kids to process and react to sensations more efficiently.
Sensory integration (SI) therapy should be provided by a specially trained
occupational therapist (OT). The OT determines through a thorough evaluation whether your child would benefit from SI therapy. In traditional SI therapy, the OT exposes a child to sensory stimulation through repetitive activities.
The OT gradually makes activities more challenging and complex. The idea is that through repetition, your child’s nervous system will respond in a more “organized” way to sensations and movement.
Sensory Integration Therapy and Sensory Diets
Many OTs now use this type of exposure as part of a more extensive “sensory diet” treatment. It includes not only things like balance treatments, movement therapy and structured exposure to sensory input, but also carefully designed and tailored physical activities and
It’s important to know that not all experts think traditional SI therapy can help kids with sensory processing issues. And many experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, caution that research on SI therapy’s effectiveness is limited and inconclusive.