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Definition of Sensory Integration?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by katjuliarhodes, May 4, 2010.

  1. I hope someone can help?
    I have come across the term Sensory Integration (Not sure if I've spelt it correctly either,) and don't know what it refers too. I've checked it in the books I have at home and not discovered anything. It would be great if anyone could offer me a definition or recommend any texts etc?
    While I'm thinking about it it would be helpfull if anyone knows of a Special Needs, especially P.M.L.D. 'dictionary' or handbook that I could look-up such terms when I come across them.
    Thanks in Advance
  2. I think it is to do with the organizing, processing and interpretation of sensory input/experience. Sometimes people can have problems with sensory integration eg those with dyspraxia or AS disorders.
  3. It's a theoretical model used largely by occupational therapists and widely disseminated by A Jean Ayres http://www.siglobalnetwork.org/about.htm in her book ‘Sensory integration and the child'. If I've understood the theory correctly, the idea is that delayed development of the cerebellum results in sensory information not being co-ordinated properly in the brain, and this manifests itself in a variety of sensory impairments.
    Although this is possible, I haven't been able to find any evidence that it's the cerebellum, rather than the sense organs themselves, or other parts of the brain, that isn't functioning properly - if the sense organs have subtle abnormalities, then you'd expect the brain areas they feed information into, to also show abnormalities.
    Therapy is based on the idea that for a brain to develop normally, the child has to go through certain developmental stages. If some stages, such as crawling, are omitted, then the brain doesn't develop properly. So therapists try to devise a programme that takes the child through a typical developmental trajectory, and do work on using more than one sense at a time. This approach was questioned in the early days because therapy often had to be very intensive and over a long period to produce positive benefit and it was suggested that the child might simply have ‘grown out' of the sensory difficulty in that time.
    It's similar to the programme used in the controversial Dore clinics http://www.dore.co.uk/ and Learning Breakthrough http://www.learningbreakthrough.com/. Personally, I think the exercises can be beneficial for some children, especially if they have vestibular (balance) problems. I can also heartily recommend Carol Stock Kranowitz' excellent books ‘The out-of-synch child' - which explains sensory integration disorder really well - and ‘The out-of-synch child has fun'. The latter has some great ideas for simple, inexpensive games and exercises for children of all abilities.

  4. And have a look at Dittrich and Tutt "Educating Children with Complex Conditions: Understanding Overlapping & Co-existing Developmental Disorders" for a clear explanation and categorisation of various conditions.
  5. Many thanks to everyone for their responses. I shall look up the texts that people have recommended and see where to go from there.
  6. I also recommend 'out of synch child'.
    Bizarrely I found a copy of it in an Oxfam bookshop a few weeks after my daughter had been screened for various learning and motor problems, and the book was extemely relevant.
    My daughter is 10 and has been in Steiner school so only started academic work at 7. No issues were noticed before and there were no huge signals from home life, just a few quirks in her behaviour. Generally a very sociable, sunny child, articulate,sensible, creative but with poor eye tracking, slightly too lively, slightly clumsy, not keen to read, poor hand writing, reduced spacial awareness and some moter issues but in general all at a mild level but enough to need help. Her new class teacher this year saw alarm bells for these issues. Many of her problems can found on the checklists for dyslexic/dyspraxia/ADHD.
    In Steiner schools one of the routes is to do INPP ( Google INPP Chester ) therapies with the children in groups.
    This therapy firstly consisits of exercises tailored to an individuals needs or to a group. there is also twice daily skin stimulation taught to parents for do to child and a specific music based therapy for individuals.
    These therapies are thought to help intigrate the reflexes which result in various improvemnts of the above symptoms. ( we hope! -early days as yet )
    Also related to this read, 'The well balanced child-movement and early learning' by Sally Goddard Blythe. Also look on INPP website publications page for others.
    I think the topic of Sensory intigration /retained reflexes is hugely relevant for all working in SEN. Pass it on!

  7. Hi Julie,

    Basically our ASD population has impaired sensory information processing difficulties. In addition to the triad of impairments. It affects the way adults and children respond to sound, sight, touch, taste, scent and pain. Sensory disturbances in autism are not recognised as part of the formal diagnostic classification in the current diagnositic manial of the American Pcychiatric Association (DSM-IV) although sensory impairments was mentioned in the earlier (DSM-III). This is despite feedback from parents and professionals confirm that abnormal responses to sensory stimuli are common in autism. There is little constructive research to date.
    Google somato dyspraxia and proprioception it will break down the sensory integration

    Good luck
    J Medway
  8. I have been working with an OT who has PG qualification in Sensory Integration and she recommends:-
    Answers to Questions Teachers ask about Sensory Integration by Koomer, Kranowitz and Szklut. It has check lists for different age groups and is very user friendly!!
    It is fascinating and something we should all be aware of but especially applicable to our SEN children,
  9. The way I understand it (in layman's terms) is that the individual does not process sensory input the same as those without the disorder. For example, some kids are hyper-sensitive to labels in their shirts and will rip them out. They are so discomforted by the label, they don't even think of the consequence of tearing the shirt. Others can't tolerate the feeling of seams in their socks. Another example would be an individual who hyperfocuses on one sound in a room and can't bear it, even though there are a lot of other things going on. For example, I've heard parents say their kids have complained of their chewing too loudly at the dinner table, even though the television is on and discussion is happening. No one else at the table "hears" the chewing, or more accuately, they don't focus on it. Textures of foods can be upsetting to some. They can't get past the texture to even evaluate the taste.
    Does this help? [​IMG]
    If you have a teen in high school with a learning disability, please see:
  10. Since this was posted, abnormal sensory responses have been re-introduced for DSM -V - out in 2012 believe.

    There's actually quite a lot of relevant research - unfortunately most of it lumps autistic children together and concludes that this that or the other sensory problem isn't a feature of all children with autism - when of course it might be a feature of an individual child.[​IMG]

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