SENSORY INTEGRATION THERAPY
All of the information we receive about the world comes to us through our sensory systems. Many sensory processes take place within the nervous system at an unconscious level, therefore we are not usually aware of them. Although we are all familiar with the senses involved in taste, smell, sight and sound, most of us do not realize that our nervous system also senses touch, movement, force of gravity, and body position. Just as our eyes detect visual information and relay it on to the brain for interpretation, all sensory systems have receptors that pick up information to be perceived by the brain. Cells within the skin send information about light touch, pain, temperature, and pressure. Structures within the inner ear detect movement and changes in the position of the head. Components of muscles, joints, and tendons provide awareness of body position.
The Sense of Touch is critical in helping us to function in daily life. It makes it possible to locate a flashlight in a drawer when the lights have gone out. Tactile sensation also plays an important role in protection from danger.
The Sense of Movement is registered and coordinated through the vestibular sense. It coordinates the movement of one’s eyes, head, and body. It helps maintain muscle tone, coordinating the two sides of the body & holding the head upright against gravity.
The Sense of Body Position is registered through the sense of proprioception, which is closely related to the vestibular sense. It is proprioception that makes it possible for a person to skillfully guide his arm or leg movements without having to observe every action. It also automatically adjusts one’s body position to prevent a fall.
Organization of the senses begins to function very early in life. The tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive systems are closely connected to each other and form interconnection with other systems of the brain. This interplay is complex and is necessary in order for a person to interpret a situation accurately and make an appropriate response. It is this organization of the senses for use that is termed sensory integration.
When the process of sensory integration is disordered, a number of problems in learning, development, or behavior may become evident.
SIGNS OF SENSORY INTEGRATION DYSFUNCTION MAY INCLUDE...
· Overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
· Under-reactive to sensory stimulation
· Activity level that is unusually high or unusually low
· Coordination problems
· Delays in speech, language, motor skills or academic achievement
· Poor organization of behavior
· Poor self concept
IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR CHILD MIGHT HAVE A SENSORY INTEGRATION DISORDER...
Have him/her evaluated by a licensed occupational therapist with a strong background in sensory integration therapy. You may ask for a SIPT certified therapist. The SIPT/ Sensory Integration & Praxis Test is the only comprehensive, standardized evaluation that can diagnose a Sensory Processing Disorder. Only a SIPT Certified therapist is qualified to administer this test. Sensory Checklists alone do not provide adequate information. They can be used to gather information pertaining to symptoms but more detailed information and standardized testing is necessary.
Results of the evaluation will indicate whether or not a sensory integrative disorder is present and will provide you with a profile of your child’s sensory processing abilities in a number of areas. Recommendations regarding the appropriateness of therapy will be made.
HOW THERAPY WORKS...
In therapy, your child will be guided through activities that challenge his or her ability to respond appropriately to sensory input by making a successful, organized response. Activities will provide vestibular, proprioceptive, visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation and are designed to meet your child’s developmental needs. Emphasis is placed on automatic sensory processes in the course of a goal-directed activity, rather than instructing or drilling the child on how to respond. Home programs are individually designed for each child for the family to assist with progress.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THERAPY...
When this approach is successful, your child will automatically process complex sensory information in a more effective manner than previously. Very often, parents report that their child seems to be more confident and self-assured, better organized and easier to live with.
For more information regarding Sensory Integration Therapy please contact TheraPediatrics at (401) 667-0173