As discussed last week on the blog, sensory integration therapy is an approach aimed to change the brain’s reaction to sensory stimulation. Treatment is play-based, utilizing a variety of sensory-rich activities such as ball pits, exercise balls, weighted vest, and swings. Research proves that sensory integration therapy has shown significant success in children diagnosed with autism.
Children with autism often present with sensory processing deficits. Ordinary situations may feel overwhelming to the point of interference with daily functioning. Individuals with autism may seek or avoid everyday auditory, visual, tactile, or oral stimuli. Children may crave more sensory stimulation by crashing into objects, perseverating on objects rich in visual patterns or textures, and/or excessively touching objects or others. Others may reject sensory stimulation by covering ears to unwanted noise, aversion to physical touch, fear of getting messy, and/or discomfort in certain clothing. Sensory processing disorder may lead to delays in speech, motor, and/or academic development.
Sensory Integration for Children with Autism
Sensory integration shows improvement in daily activities for children with autism. Sensory integration helps a child processes sensory stimuli to better participate in everyday tasks. Multiple studies support the success and use of sensory integration therapy for individuals with Autism.
• A study at Trakya University Training and Research Center in Turkey found significant differences between children with autism treated with sensory integration therapy program vs. children with autism not treated with sensory integration. (Fazlioglu & Baran, 2008).
• An Intervention for Sensory Difficulties in Children with Autism: A Randomized Trial (Schaaf, et. al, 2013) showed that children in the sensory integration group scored significantly higher on attaining their set goals. Standardized tests analysis also indicated that the children in the sensory integration group reported less assistance from their parents in self-care and social situations.
At-home Sensory Stimulation
At Lumiere Children’s therapy, our sensory integration program takes place in our sensory gym! It is a space full of sensory rich toys and games to provide your child with high sensory activities. To help facilitate your child’s sensory needs at-home, create a safe, calming space for them. Children with sensory processing disorder rely on sensory input to naturally calm down and re-focus. A cozy corner/sensory space is a great place for a child to rejuvenate if they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Here are a few ideas to make the perfect space at home:
• Use a tent or canopy to reserve space for the calming center.
• Fill space with beanbag pillows, soft rugs, or pillows.
• Place sensory toys nearby such as fidget toys, stuff animals, toys with bright lights, etc.
• Provide books to read.
• Turn on quiet calm music or a “white noise” machine while your child is in their cozy corner.
Contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy to enroll in our therapeutic preschool and/or consult with an occupational therapist about sensory integration therapy. Next week on our sensory integration series are at-home sensory rich activities and exercises!
Fazlioglu, Y., & Baran, G. (2008). A sensory integration therapy program on sensory problems for children with autism. Perceptual and Motor Skills,106(2), 415-22.
Lang, R. (2012). Sensory integration therapy for autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders,6(3), 1004-1018. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2012.01.006
Study Finds Sensory Integration Therapy Benefits Children with Autism. (2013, December 3). Retrieved April 26, 2017, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/study-finds-sensory-integration-therapy-benefits-children-autism