Sensory Integration

What helps make Sensory Integration effective, in part, is the actual nature and set-up of our clinic.  We have a spacious facility with state-of-the-art sensory integration equipment to support our child-directed approach.

Sensory pertains to our senses (hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste, perception of motion/movement and gravity).

Integration is the process of making whole, unifying, allowing the brain the use the information that the senses take in.

Sensory Integration is used for all activities, but are especially concerned about organization of sensory information for use in the classroom, the playground, activities of daily living, and lastly, relationships and interactions with others.

What is Sensory Information?

Your senses- seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, feeling of motion, movement, and gravity – tell you much about the world. All this information from our senses is collected in the brain, then organized and used for all of our activities. Most of us are already familiar with the sensory information from vision, smell, touch, and hearing; in addition, your brain also receives important information from other lesser know sensory sources.

Feeling of Motion/Movement and Gravity

Gravity is the force that holds us here on earth. To function effectively under gravity, our bodies must be able to receive and process continually changing information as we move. There are several types of information and sensory receptors gathering it.

1. Proprioceptive Input is unconscious information from the muscles and joints about position, weight or pressure, stretch, movement, and changes of position in space.
2. Vestibular Input is unconscious information from the inner ear about equilibrium (state of balance), gravity, movement, and changes of position in space.
3. Kinesthesia is the unconscious awareness of body parts in relation to movement. Our brain combines all the information from outside the body (through vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) with information from inside the body (received through the inner ear and the muscles and joints) to form a conscious, overall awareness of one’s body in all activities.

Because of the kinesthetic organization of vestibular, proprioceptive, and other sensory information, the child begins to develop:

1. Flexor Maturation – A reflex is an innate response to sensory input; reflex maturation is a developing or improving innate response to sensory input.
2. Body Schema – The awareness of what position your body and body parts are in.
3. Postural Balance – Subtle spontaneous adjustments to maintain body position; for example being able to stand on one leg.
4. Bilateral Integration – The brain’s ability to allow its right and left sides to work together; for example, walking or riding a bike.

Once the brain develops bilateral integration, the younger child can use sensory motor skills abilities to develop perceptual motor skills:

1. Body Coordination – Examples include walking, running, playing ball, skipping, jumping.
2. Eye Hand Coordination – Examples are tying shoelaces, buttoning buttons, writing.
3. Perceiving Relationships of Objects in Space – (including the position of one’s body in relation to objects). Examples include working on a puzzle, or navigating an obstacle course.
4.   Hearing and Speaking Skills – Being able to remember and repeat a list of words.

An older child then can use a more mature brain to gain the capability to function in reading, writing, thinking, independent seat work, behavior control. A problem at any of the earlier stages of brain activity development can effect these higher-level learning skills. Since our emotional and social maturity is related to being able to organize and develop sensory integration, the successful performing of all the above activities will give an individual high self-esteem.

What is Sensory Integration Dysfunction?

Sensory Integration Dysfunction is an irregularity or disorder in brain function that makes it difficult to integrate sensory input effectively. Sensory Integrative Dysfunction may be present in motor, learning, social/emotional, speech/language, or attention disorders.

Signs may include:

• Overly sensitive to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
• Activity level that is unusually high or unusually low
• Delays in speech, language, motor skills, and/or academic achievement
• Under reactive to sensory stimulation
• Coordination problems
• Poor organization of behavior
• Poor self concept

What is Sensory Integration Therapy?

This is a child directed therapy approach that first detects which of the 7 sensory systems is faulty in processing information. Therapy activities are then individually designed to assist in actively increasing the brain’s awareness and ability to respond appropriately.