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  • Cara Clark

What is Sensory Integration Therapy?

In my previous post, I mentioned what sensory processing dysfunction is and did a brief overview of sensory integration therapy. This is to expand from that and further divulge into what it is we do.

Sensory integration therapy is a specialized form of OT that requires specially trained therapists. These specially trained therapists help stabilize and normalize the senses so that the person in treatment can go through life easier. SI is different from sensory play as sensory integration requires these specially trained OTs to follow a fidelity measure that was created by the founder of SI therapy, Jean Ayres. In addition to the fidelity measure, the treatment must be child directed and therapist guided. This means the child chooses the activity and the therapist will alter the task to ensure the child is meeting their needs and reaching the goals. Next, sensory integration therapy requires specific equipment, ample amount of suspension hooks, and mats everywhere as crashing is sure to happen. This allows for the crashing to happen within a safe environment instead of the walls or the floors at home. A sensory integration gym will look a lot like a cross between a gymnastics gym and a playground, but I assure you that it is much different. As I mentioned before, play is the primary job of a child and sensory integration involves play.

How will this help with tolerating brushing hair, transitioning between tasks, following directions, and reduce meltdowns? Great question. These therapists are trained to use their skills to teach their clients how to achieve these goals. Hair brushing: they will use a lot of tactile and proprioceptive input. Transitions: they will carefully and strategically alter tasks to improve adaptability (along with other skills). Follow directions: create obstacle courses or perform games with multiple directions. Reducing meltdowns: regulation is key and the therapist will use various treatment methods to teach the child how to identify how they are feeling and what to do when they are overwhelmed. What is important to know is that sensory integration therapy will change the brain in a positive way so that it is able to handle what is making it feel out of sort. Sensory play will not do this and that is what makes sensory integration so different and has lasting progress.

Now if you, your teen, or significant other are wondering how sensory integration can help you, I promise it can. We approach it slightly different than we do with children but we are able to help. We have seen adult picky eaters be able to add foods to their diet. We have helped reduce anxiety to be successful at work and college. We have helped parents be able to bond with their children. We have helped couples be able to tolerate sitting next to one another. If you, at all, feel like something is greatly holding you back from being the best you, ask us how we can help.

If you have any questions or comments, please reach out because we want to hear from you! In the meantime, go on and flourish!

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