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Using Sensory Integration Therapy in Occupational Therapy

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Using Sensory Integration Therapy in Occupational Therapy

Sensory integration (SI) refers to the processes in the brain that take information from our senses, organize it, and create the appropriate response. It essentially allows us to understand and interact with the world around us.

Unfortunately, some people, especially children with developmental disorders, have problems with sensory processing. Current estimates show that 5% to 16.5% of the general population exhibit symptoms associated with sensory integration challenges. That’s where sensory integration therapy comes in.

Sensory integration therapy is an effective treatment for sensory processing problems.  These problems include hypersensitivity to stimuli, such as sound, touch or light, and dyspraxia, a condition that affects coordination and movement. Sensory integration therapy at JAG PT not only improves cognitive abilities and motor skills but also empowers children to participate confidently in everyday activities, from schoolwork to playtime, leading to a happier, more fulfilling life.

At JAG Physical Therapy, we understand how difficult it can be for people with sensory integration challenges to go about their everyday lives. Our expert sensory integration therapists are highly trained in treating and conditioning sensory integration. Book your appointment today to discover how our expert sensory integration therapists at JAG PT can help improve your child's daily life.

What Is Sensory Integration Therapy and How Does It Work?

The methods and approaches used in sensory integration therapy depend on the patient’s individual needs and age. Generally, sensory integration therapy aims to help the patient learn to respond appropriately to sensory stimuli. It also includes techniques that help the person cope with sensory processing issues, such as hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity.

First and foremost, sensory integration therapy involves understanding how the individual perceives the world. A person, especially a child, with sensory integration issues has a very different view and experience of the world around them. SI therapists usually adopt the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based (DIR) model to understand and treat their patients.

The DIR model is a framework for understanding human development and how individuals uniquely perceive and interact with their surroundings.

From there, the SI therapist recommends behaviors, activities, exercises, or aids to help patients cope with their sensory processing issues. For instance, if a patient is overly sensitive to sound, the therapist might recommend wearing ear muffs or playing soft white noise via headphones.

Ready to help your child thrive? Contact JAG PT today to get started.

What Conditions Can Benefit from Sensory Integration Therapy?

Sensory integration therapy is an effective treatment for sensory processing disorder (SPD). Formally known as sensory processing dysfunction, this is a condition where one or more senses (vision, touch, hearing, taste, smell, spatial awareness, or vestibular sense) react too much or too little to stimuli.

SPD is usually seen in children as a symptom of other developmental or personality disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Between 69% to 93% of people with ASD exhibit sensory processing difficulties. And about 40% of children with ADHD also have SPD. Some cases of sensory processing disorder may be linked to congenital disabilities, brain injuries, or learning limitations.

Children who exhibit the following symptoms could benefit from sensory integration therapy:

  • Activity levels that are too high or too low
  • Delayed speech, learning, language, or motor skills
  • Overly sensitive or under-reactive to touch, sights, odors, or sounds
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Clumsy or odd posture/gait
  • Lacking creativity and variety in play
  • Trouble sleeping or calming down
  • Lacking social skills
  • Refusing to eat certain foods due to the texture causing gag reflex 

Sensory integration therapy focuses on helping the child cope with the symptoms of SPD. It also touches on behavioral conditioning and coaching social, cognitive, balance/movement, and motor skills. That way, the child can confidently participate in everyday activities such as classwork and playtime. The therapy works on teens and adults as well, helping them to socialize among peers, attend work/school, and go about their daily lives. If your child shows any of these signs, don’t wait. Schedule an evaluation with JAG PT now.

What Techniques Are Used in Sensory Integration Therapy?

Here are some of the most common occupational therapy sensory integration techniques:

  • Sensory-based play – This is playtime designed for the child to explore and familiarize themselves with new textures, sounds, visuals, scents, movement patterns, etc. Sensory-based play also refines the child’s motor and communication skills while building self-confidence.
  • Therapeutic exercises – Some therapeutic practices, such as deep pressure, vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), speech and language therapy, and vision therapy, can go a long way in normalizing sensitivity to stimuli, communication skills, balance, and more.
  • Environmental modifications – These are used in cases where the child cannot adapt to external stimuli. For instance, if the child has an overly reactive olfactory sense, changes can be made to minimize the intensity of scents and odors around them.
  • Sensory diet – A sensory diet is a suite of treatments, activities, recommendations, exercises, and accommodations that help the child control or regulate their sensory inputs and responses. Creating a sensory diet requires close collaboration between the child’s parent/caregiver and an occupational therapist to determine which senses and goals to target.

Experience Effective Sensory Integration Therapy at JAG Physical Therapy

Caring for a child with sensory processing disorder or other developmental challenges can be hard. You have to constantly make excuses for your child’s “odd” behavior. It’s not easy for the child either—it’s sad to think they have no idea that something is wrong with their sensory inputs or responses.

But you’re not alone; JAG Physical Therapy is here to help. We offer highly personalized sensory integration therapy as part of our comprehensive occupational therapy services. Schedule a consultation now and see firsthand how JAG PT’s personalized occupational therapy program can make a difference.