What is Sensory Integration?
Sensory Integration is defined by A. Jean Ayres, the pioneer of this theory, as “the organisation of sensations for use”. As we move through different environments, participate in different roles and routines and engage in social interactions, our body receives information through the senses. The nervous system sorts and filters this information after which a purposeful response is produced.
If the processing and integration of this information does not occur in an efficient manner, a multitude of challenges may arise. These challenges are then observed during the individual’s functional performance.
The following behaviours may be present in an individual with sensory integration challenges:
- Hyperactivity -unable to remain still
- Distractibility – unable to attend to tasks in the classroom
- Sensitive to touch – bothered by clothing material, reactive to being bumped, avoidant of grooming activities such as nail trimming, avoidant of messy play activities including sand, mud and/or glue
- Sensitive to noise – big reactions to loud and unexpected sounds or household noises such as a vacuum cleaner
- Motor coordination challenges – clumsy, poor coordination, constantly falling over
- Difficulties achieving academic expectations
- Fearful of movement experiences – refusal to climb on play equipment or use swings
- Poorly developed speech
- Fussy eating
- Limited social skills
- Poor sleep patterns
- Frequent emotional meltdowns