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Use the information provided on this site as an educational resource for determining your options and making your own
informed choices. It is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any specific illness.
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for Sensory Education
|Intervention may consist of one or more of the following strategies: intensive individual occupational therapy sessions
to improve SI functioning, group or individual sessions to help the child develop compensatory skills and cognitive
strategies, consultation with parents and teachers to help them gain insight into the child’s SI-related behavior
problems, and referral to selected community programs that will support the child’s development through participation
in activities such as swimming, horseback riding, dance, yoga, or karate. For children ages 0-3, California has an
Early Start Program that allows eligible children to be treated at no cost.
Occupational therapists play a key role in the conventional treatment of SID. By providing sensory integration therapy,
occupational therapists are able to supply the vital sensory input and experiences that children with SID need to grow
and learn. Also referred to as a "sensory diet", this type of therapy involves an activity program implemented by an
occupational therapist, with each "diet" being designed and developed to meet the needs of the child's nervous
system. A sensory diet stimulates the "near" senses (tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive) with a combination of
alerting, organizing, and calming techniques. A sensory diet is a daily or weekly list of activities that the child can
engage in during regular routines to help maintain an optimal state of arousal. Sensory diet activities can also provide
greater body awareness prior to performing skilled tasks. Although a sensory diet is developed by a therapist trained
in sensory integration and can be an adjunct to treatment, it can also be implemented by parents, teachers, or clients
themselves. Motor skills training methods that normally consist of adaptive physical education, movement education,
and gymnastics are often used.
Traditional sensory integrative therapy takes place on a 1:1 basis in a room with suspended equipment for varying
movement and sensory experiences. The goal of therapy is not to teach skills, but to follow the child's lead and artfully
select and modify activities according to the child's responses. The activities afford a variety of opportunities to
experience tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive input. One important aspect of therapy that uses a sensory
integrative approach is that the motivation of the child plays a crucial role in the selection of the activities. Most
children tend to seek out activities that provide sensory experiences most beneficial to them at that point in
development. It is this active involvement and exploration that enables the child to become a more mature, efficient
organizer of sensory information. According to Dr. Ayres, "Sensations that make a child happy tend to be integrating."
When these children are actively involved in their own learning, they become more organized, they have fun, and they
become more "in tune" with their bodies. This is the core of Sensory Integration Theory.
In treating sensory dysfunctions, a "just right" challenge is used: giving the child just the right amount of challenge to
motivate him and stimulate changes in the way the system processes sensory information but not so much as to make
him shut down or go into sensory overload. The sensory integrative approach is guided by one important aspect-the
child's motivation in selection of the activities. By allowing them to be actively involved, and explore activities that
provide sensory experiences most beneficial to them, children become more mature and efficient at organizing sensory
A typical therapy session will provide sensory experiences that help to normalize an individual's sensory perceptions in
order to help them achieve and sustain an optimal state of alertness and attention. In addition, it helps to develop skills
for daily functioning. This includes: