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Sensory integration therapy has been specially designed to assist children who are facing issues in processing sensory information. As a part of this therapy, children undergo repetitive exercises that helps them to experience touch and other sensations more accurately. Sensory integration therapy aims to adjust the way children respond to physical sensations.
Autism's symptoms include difficulty in processing sensory information, such as textures, smells, brightness, sounds, tastes and movement. These difficulties can make ordinary situations feel overwhelming and interfere with daily function leading to isolation of individuals and their families.
Sensory integration therapy uses play activities designed to check how the brain reacts to sight, touch, movement and sound. Some children experience an overload of sensory information and are hypersensitive to certain types of stimulation.
When they have sensory overload, their brains have difficulty in processing or filtering many sensations at once. On the contrary, other children are under sensitive to some kinds of stimulation, which means that they do not process sensory messages quickly or efficiently. These children struggle to understand, respond and organize to the information they take in from their surroundings and finally get isolated from their surroundings. The therapy is designed for children with sensory processing issues, including dyspraxia, ADHD, autism and spectrum disorder. It might also be used with young children who show signs of developmental delay.
Sensory integration therapy is fun for kids because it resembles playtime. It is done in a specially designed setting where kids are required to play with balls of different sizes, textures and weights. Sessions involve playing with clay and other materials. Children are asked to bounce, swing or spin on special equipment.
The therapist gradually makes these activities more challenging and complex. The therapy exposes children to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive manner.
This is based on the theory that the brain will adapt and allow them to process and react to sensations more efficiently in the due course of time. Sensory integration therapy is provided by occupational therapists certified in sensory integration, which effectively means that therapist can plan strategies for use in therapy sessions to help a child with sensory issues. As therapists may only see a child an hour or two a week, therapy extends into the home and in school in form of a sensory lifestyle. Caregivers work with therapists to create a detailed schedule of therapies specific to each child, which may require adaptations to make the home such as creating quiet spaces and reducing visual clutter, are often suggested.
There's no harm in having one's child try sensory integration therapy. But one must be aware that there may be more effective ways to help the child with sensory issues. The protagonists of this therapy claim that it can help kids learn and pay attention in a more efficient manner.