Sensory Integration is a technique used for children and adults who may have a sensory processing disorder. When we use our senses (touch, smell, sight, hear, and taste) a signal is sent to our nervous system which indicates the response we have. If a person has a sensory processing disorder they may have a difficult time sitting at the dinner table because the sound of people eating is too overwhelming. On the flip side, a young child with a sensory processing disorder may not sense when they need to use the bathroom. A person can be over stimulated with sensory information or may not recognize that their body is sensing anything.
Trauma or significant events can cause sensory integration problems. Children who experience neglect or abuse, may not recognize body sensations which may lead to delayed potty training or disoriented body movements. The inability to recognize sensations in the body can also result in the inability to recognize or understand emotions. A teenager who gets very angry at small stimulis may benefit in having sensory integration to recognize when he is irritated and to focus on calming down before he “blows up”.
Sensory Integration involves various types of exercises and activities that engage the 5 senses. The therapist helps the client identify the different sensations they are having as they put their hand in a box of beans or wet water beads. Gradual exposure to healthy touch and the ability to identify different sensations helps the client be more aware of their body. Their body awareness then leads to better control of body functions and emotions.
For more information on Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration, visit the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.