Sensory integration therapy

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Sensory integration therapy is based on A. Jean Ayres's Sensory Integration Theory.


While sensory based treatments have been highly advocated for, there is disagreement over their therapeutic worth.[1][2][3]


Ayres' sensory integration[4] is a theory that describes (1) how the neurological process of processing and integrating sensory information from the body and the environment contribute to emotional regulation, learning, behavior, and participation in daily life, (2) empirically derived disorders of sensory integration[5][6] and (3) an intervention approach. "Sensory integration theory is used to explain why individuals behave in particular ways, plan intervention to ameliorate particular difficulties, and predict how behavior will change as a result of intervention."[7] Sensory integration theory originated from the work of A. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist and psychologist. Ayres wrote, "Sensory Integration is the organization of sensations for use. Our senses give us information about the physical conditions of our body and the environment around us...The brain must organize all of our sensations if a person is to move and learn and behave in a productive manner".[8]

The neurological process of sensory integration is a "particular way of viewing the neural organization of sensory information for functional behavior".[9] It is studied by different professions on diverse levels, such as by occupational therapists as a foundation for occupational performance and participation, by psychologists on a cellular level as multi-sensory integration.[10]

As a theory, sensory integration is "a dynamic and ecological theory that specifies the critical influence of sensory processing on human development and function".[11] "It contributes to the understanding of how sensation affects learning, social-emotional development, and neurophysiological processes, such as motor performance, attention, and arousal".[11]

As an intervention approach, it is used as "a clinical frame of reference for the assessment and treatment of people who have functional disorders in sensory processing".[9]

People with sensory integrative dysfunction experience problems with their sense of touch, smell, hearing, taste, sight, body coordination, and movement against gravity. Along with this might possibly be difficulties in movement, coordination and sensing where one's body is in a given space. According to proponents of sensory integration therapy, sensory integrative dysfunction is a common disorder for individuals with neurological learning disabilities such as an autism spectrum disorder,[12][13] attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,[14] and sensory modulation dysfunction.[15]

Ayres' approach has proliferated among therapy and educational professionals over the past several decades. It has been met with some resistance within the occupational therapy profession and in other disciplines.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barton EE, Reichow B, Schnitz A, Smith IC, Sherlock D (2015). "A systematic review of sensory-based treatments for children with disabilities". Res Dev Disabil. 37: 64–80. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2014.11.006. PMID 25460221.
  2. ^ Case-Smith J, Weaver LL, Fristad MA (2015). "A systematic review of sensory processing interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders". Autism. 19 (2): 133–48. doi:10.1177/1362361313517762. PMID 24477447.
  3. ^ Schaaf, Roseann C.; Dumont, Rachel L.; Arbesman, Marian; May-Benson, Teresa A. (2018-01-01). "Efficacy of Occupational Therapy Using Ayres Sensory Integration®: A Systematic Review". American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 72 (1): 7201190010p1–7201190010p10. doi:10.5014/ajot.2018.028431. ISSN 0272-9490. PMID 29280711.
  4. ^ Smith Roley, Susanne; Mailloux, Zoe; Miller Kuhaneck, Heather (September 2007). "Understanding Ayres' Sensory Integration". OT Practice. 12 (17): CE1-8.
  5. ^ Mulligan, Shelly (1998). "Patterns of sensory integration dysfunction: A confirmatory factor analysis". American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 52 (10): 819–828. doi:10.5014/ajot.52.10.819.
  6. ^ Mailloux, Zoe; Mulligan, Shelly; Roley, Susanne S.; Blanche, Erna I.; Cermak, Sharon (2011). "Verification and clarification of patterns of sensory integrative dysfunction". American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 65 (2): 143–151. doi:10.5014/ajot.2011.000752.
  7. ^ Murray, Anita C.; Lane, Shelly J.; Murray, Elizabeth A. (2001). Sensory integration (2 ed.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis. p. 5. ISBN 0-8036-0545-5.
  8. ^ Ayres, A. Jean (2005). Sensory integration and the child : understanding hidden sensory challenges (25th anniversary ed., rev. and updated ed.). Los Angeles, CA: WPS. p. 5. ISBN 978-087424-437-3.
  9. ^ a b c Parham, D. & Mailloux, Z. (2010). Sensory Integration. In Case-Smith, J. & O’Brien, J. (Eds.), Occupational Therapy For Children (6th ed.). (pp 325-372). Maryland Heights, Missouri: Mosby Elsevier.
  10. ^ Wallace, Mark T.; Stein, Berry E. (1997). "Development of multisensory neurons and multisensory integration in cat superior colliculus". Journal of Neuroscience. 17: 2429–2444. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.17-07-02429.1997. PMID 9065504.
  11. ^ a b Smith Roley, S. & Jacobs, E. S. (2009). Sensory Integration. In Crepeau, E. B., Cohn, E. & Boyt Schell, B. (Eds.), Willard & Spackman’s Occupational Therapy (11th ed.). (pp. 792-817). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  12. ^ Marco EJ; Hinkley LB; Hill SS; Nagarajan SS (May 2011). "Sensory processing in autism: a review of neurophysiologic findings". Pediatr. Res. 69 (5 Pt 2): 48R–54R. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3182130c54. PMC 3086654. PMID 21289533.
  13. ^ Dawson, G.; Watling, R. (October 2000). "Interventions to facilitate auditory, visual, and motor integration in autism: a review of the evidence". J Autism Dev Disord. 30 (5): 415–21. doi:10.1023/A:1005547422749. PMID 11098877.
  14. ^ Ghanizadeh A (June 2011). "Sensory processing problems in children with ADHD, a systematic review". Psychiatry Investig. 8 (2): 89–94. doi:10.4306/pi.2011.8.2.89. PMC 3149116. PMID 21852983.
  15. ^ Miller, L. J.; Reisman, J. E.; McIntosh, D. N.; Simon, J. (January 2001). S. S. Roley; E. I. Blanche; R. C. Schaaf (eds.). An ecological model of sensory modulation: Performance of children with fragile X syndrome, autistic disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and sensory modulation dysfunction (PDF). Understanding the nature of sensory integration with diverse populations. Tucson, AZ: Therapy Skill Builders. pp. 75–88. ISBN 9780761615156. OCLC 46678625. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2013-07-26.