What is Sensory Integration Therapy for Autism?

The way that we perceive sensations is very important to our ability to survive and interact with our environment. Our ability to process and coordinate the sensations of hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste, body perception in space and movement is vast and complex. The brain coordinates all these different sensations in multiple patterns to help us interact with the world around us. For example, the way an orange looks, smells, feels and tastes is distinct. You expect if you see an orange, that it will smell and taste like an orange.

Children with autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing disorder and many different conditions have difficulty processing normal sensations and making sense of these complex patterns. Often, it can become overwhelming and the child can just shut down, avoid, or overreact to sensory input that most of us can easily experience.

Sensory integration is a specific type of therapy that Pediatric Therapies provides to help children integrate these many different sensations so that they can respond in a more organized manner in terms of motor performance, behavior and social interaction. You can incorporate activities and strategies at home to help your child as well.

To support a child who craves lots of movement, providing structured opportunities throughout the day is helpful:

  • Let him sit on a wiggle cushion or stand at the table when eating
  • Schedule 2 or 3 outdoor play sessions
  • Incorporate heavy work activities to help him stay organized

To support a child who is resistant to changes in routine and has difficulty transitioning:

  • Provide visual schedules
  • Give warnings prior to transitions
  • Use reward systems to help motivate

To support a child who is defensive to touch input:

  • Know their defensiveness is real and alarming to them – adjust your expectations, but don’t give in to every discomfort
  • Plan for potential problems by planning ahead – know what you can control and what you can’t
  • Give your child choices within reason so they feel like they have some control

Specific treatments are based on incorporating visual, auditory, tactile, movement and other sensations to help the child engage with his environment more successfully. This truly opens the child’s world!

For more information on sensory integration therapy, call us today at 615.377.1623 to speak with one of our experts.