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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 information.
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: