Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration theory and treatment were developed by developmental psychologist and occupational therapist Dr. A. Jean Ayres in the 1950’s. Dr. Ayres believed that a normal functioning sensory system was essential to motor development, learning, and behavior. She developed the Sensory Integration Praxis Test (SIPT), which is still used today, and continued to conduct further studies to understand patterns of sensory integration problems into the 1980’s.

Today, Sensory Integration Therapy is widely recommended to help promote normal growth and development.  Therapists work together with other professionals to develop a customized treatment plan of sensory-based activities that target motor development, and the successful integration of sensory systems throughout the nervous system.

Sensory Integration is the organization of sensation for use in everyday life. Our senses give us information about the physical condition of our body and the environment for use. We have the five sense of Sight, Hearing, Touch, Taste, Smell with two additional senses needed for survival to include Vestibular and Proprioception. These two senses detect the pull of gravity and the movement of our body in relation to the earth.

Proprioception is information from the muscles and joints allowing to bring our hands to our mouth in a well coordinated manner to feed ourselves. Vestibular sense is the knowledge of the position of one’s head in space which allows us to enjoy a playground swing without falling off.

The brain must organize all of these sensations if a person is to move and learn and behave normally. The brain locates, sorts, and orders sensations in an integrated manner allowing the formation of perceptions with appropriate behavior and the ability to learn. When the flow of the sensations from the senses to the brain is disorganized, or the information received from our senses is incorrect or perceived incorrectly, then the output of behavior and learning is not typical.