Sensory integration refers to both a theory and an intervention developed by A. Jean Ayres (1972) and is based on the relationship between the brain and behaviour. It can be described as “the process of organising sensory inputs so that the brain produces a useful body response.”
The senses we are most commonly aware of include vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. However, there are two important hidden senses that are largely unconscious. These are the vestibular system (balance and movement) and proprioception (sensory feedback from muscle and joints). All these sensory systems provide information that is needed to successfully adapt to, and interact with, the environment (Anzalone & Lane, 2012).
Sensory processing difficulties can change how a person responds to changes in their own body, the environment and how they interact with it and others around them. They may have difficulties registering or processing sensory input which may result in them seeking out or avoiding particular types of stimuli. These behaviours can have an impact on social interactions, activities of daily living, gross and fine motor skills, cognitive development and the ability to maintain a calm, alert state.
At Brainwave, sensory integration strategies can be used to assist children who have sensory processing difficulties.
Difficulties with sensory processing can be seen in isolation but can also be seen in combination with other diagnoses including: Autistic Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD), Learning Disabilities (LD), Dyspraxia and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), Regulatory and Mood Disorders and Specific Learning Difficulties (eg Dyslexia, Dyscalculia).
Ayres A.J. (1972) Sensory integration and learning disorders. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.
Anzalone M.E. & Lane S.J. (2012) Sensory processing disorders. In SJ Lane and AC Bundy, eds Kids can be Kids. A childhood occupations approach. Philadelphia: FA Davis Company. 437-459