Sensory Integration theory was initially developed by A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D, OTR, in the 1960’s and 70’s. In 1989 Dr. Ayres defined sensory integration as “the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment..”
This is a simple statement that says a great deal. Based on this definition, sensory integration refers to brain based processes that, when functioning properly, allow an individual to participate successfully in real life situations. When a neurologically based sensory system is not functioning properly, an individual will have difficulty with important life skills reliant on conceptual and motor learning. Sensory integration disorder treatment is based on the belief that “enhanced sensory experiences, provided within the context of a meaningful activity and the planning and production of adaptive behavior, results in enhanced sensory integration, and in turn, enhanced learning”. (pg.17) Dr. Fisher & Dr. Murray, Sensory Integration, Theory and Practice, 1991.
Pediatric occupational therapists with additional training and experience in sensory integration treatment, assess a child’s sensory system and then develops an appropriate treatment plan based on the results of the assessment. Sensory integration disorder treatment focuses on identifying meaningful activities that will allow a child to experience sensory information in a way that enhances their ability to tolerate, adapted to, or improve in response to sensory input. The goal is to enhance the ability to learn and participate with important life activities, such as play, learning, self help skills and interacting successfully with others.
Since Jean Ayres initially began sharing her theories, there has been a great deal of research increasing the understanding of sensory integration. Current research may be found at http://www.spdfoundation.net/spdfresearch.html.
If you have questions about your child’s sensory functioning, visit www.speechandot.com and complete the developmental survey. An occupational therapist will be happy to discuss your child’s results with you and answer any questions you may have at no charge. Speech & Occupational Therapy of North Texas has clinics in Frisco and Plano.