Sensory integration is the term used to define how individuals receive and process information from the sensory systems. The sensory systems include vision, auditory, taste, smell, tactile (touch), proprioceptive (sense of joint position), and vestibular (balance and movement). Integration of the sensory system is important for completing daily self-care routines including communication, eating, toileting, bathing, dressing, socializing, and completing household management. Effective integration of the sensory systems promotes appropriate emotional regulation and coordination of motor systems.
Children who experience difficulty with sensory integration may demonstrate a variety of responses such as difficulty completing daily routines, socializing, attending to tasks, and navigating environmental demands. A child who demonstrates signs and symptoms of impaired sensory integration may be referred by a doctor for occupational therapy evaluation and treatment. Following an evaluation, an occupational therapist may adjust their sensory based intervention approaches depending on the underlying causes.
Therapeutic activities may include the implementation of a sensory diet to provide appropriate sensory input throughout the day for improved engagement and independence in daily routines. A sensory diet is a daily routine in which a child uses various inputs such as movement, touch, or proprioceptive input to regulate emotional and behavioral responses depending on the time of day or environment. Sensory based strategies are designed to promote improved emotional regulation, attention, and behavioral responses throughout the day.
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Source: American Occupational Therapy Association. ( 2017). Frequently Asked Questions About Ayres Sensory Integration. [PDF File]. Bethesda, MD. Retrived from https://www.aota.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/Practice/Children/Resources/FAQs/SI%20Fact%20Sheet%202.pdf