Sensory integration therapy is based on the idea that some kids experience “sensory overload” and are oversensitive to certain types of stimulation. When children have sensory overload, their brains have trouble processing or filtering many sensations at once. Meanwhile, other kids are undersensitive to some kinds of stimulation. Kids who are undersensitive don’t process sensory messages quickly or efficiently. These children may seem disconnected from their environment. In either case, kids with sensory integration issues struggle to organize, understand and respond to the information they take in from their surroundings.
Sensory integration therapy exposes children to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive manner. The theory behind this treatment approach is that, over time, the brain will adapt and allow them to process and react to sensations more efficiently. Supporters of this therapy say it can help kids learn and pay attention more efficiently too.
Sensory integration therapy is designed primarily for children with sensory processing issues. This may include kids who have ADHD, autism spectrum disorder and dyspraxia. It might also be used with young children who show signs of developmental delay.
Sensory integration therapy can be fun for kids because it resembles playtime. This therapy takes place in our specially designed setting where kids are encouraged to play with balls of different sizes, textures and weights. Therapy sessions often involve playing with clay and other materials. Children may also be asked to bounce, swing or spin on special equipment.
The therapist gradually makes these activities more challenging and complex. The idea is that through repetition, a child’s nervous system will respond in a more “organized” way to sensations and movement. Sometimes sensory integration therapy is paired with balance treatments or movement therapy. This type of therapy may involve going through an obstacle course, throwing a ball and standing on a balance board.
We offer sensory integration therapy at all of our pediatric outpatient clinics.