Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory processing “is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives sensory messages and turns them into responses” (Miller, 2006).

Dr. A. Jean Ayres (an Occupational Therapist, Educational Psychologist and Neuroscientist) theorized that “when sensory processing is impaired in a child…social, emotional, motor and/or functional problems can result” (Miller, 2006).

sensory integration therapy chelmsford essex sensory integration therapy chelmsford essex

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) occurs when there are problems with processing in one or more sensory systems (i.e. tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, auditory, visual or olfactory), and as a result, a child’s daily routines and activities are disrupted. SPD is classified under three symptom clusters that may occur independently or in combination with each other:

  • Sensory Modulation Disorder
  • Sensory-Based Motor Disorder
  • Sensory Discrimination Disorder

Sensory Integration therapy involves direct one-on-one treatment based on the Ayres Sensory IntegrationĀ® (ASI) principles. ASI intervention should be provided by a therapist with postgraduate training (minimum Module 2 or equivalent) and intervention should adhere to ASI principles. The environment should include both suspended equipment and a variety of other equipment to meet the child’s sensory needs. It should also provide the child with a variety of sensory opportunities, help the child maintain appropriate levels of alertness, challenge posture.

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Therapeutic Listening™

“Listening is a function of the entire brain; when we listen, we listen with the whole body” (Vital Links, 2007-2009).

Many children with sensory processing difficulties also have listening difficulties. This is particularly relevant for children with auditory sensitivity or over-responsivity. These children tend to respond negatively to loud or unexpected noises, such as alarms, vacuum cleaners, hand dryers or kitchen appliances (e.g. food processor, microwave). They may also be distracted by background noise.

Therapeutic Listening™ (TL) programs combine sound-based intervention with sensory integration therapy to prepare the body for sustained attention and active listening. TL forms part of an individualised treatment program, used by Occupational Therapists to help improve sensory modulation, attention, behaviour, postural control, self-regulation, bladder and bowel function, sleep patterns, motor coordination, spatial awareness, fine motor control, praxis, speech and language difficulties, social skills and visual motor integration.

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Therapressure Program™ and Sensory Diet

The Wilbarger Therapressure Program™ involves the use of deep pressure touch and joint proprioception to treat sensory defensiveness. Deep pressure touch input is applied to specific areas of the body (including the hands, arms, back, legs and feet) using a Therapressure brush. It is then followed immediately by joint proprioception / compression input to joints in the trunk, shoulders, elbows, hands, hips, knees and ankles.

The Therapressure Program™ must be applied frequently and consistently (about every 90 to 120 minutes during waking hours) for a number of weeks. The program “requires training and ongoing supervision by a therapist who has advanced training in treating sensory defensiveness” (Wilbarger & Wilbarger, 2010).

A sensory diet is an individualised and carefully constructed activity plan which is “practical, carefully scheduled and based on the concept that controlled sensory input can affect functional abilities” (Wilbarger & Wilbarger, 2010). The goal of a sensory diet is to enhance performance in everyday activities and remediate developmental and sensory processing difficulties.

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