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    • Sensory Processing Disorder

      Sensory Integration (S.I.) vs. Sensory Processing Disorder (S.P.D.)

      Sensory Integration (S.I.) was termed in the 1960s by Dr. Jean Ayres. She combined her knowledge of neuroscience and Occupational Therapy to create theory, assessments, and treatment principles. S.I. is when the senses work together, to create a neurological process of organizing and interpreting, and directing the somatosensory functions from the environment. It locates, sorts, and orders sensations like a traffic policeman moves traffic. When there is S.I. dysfunction, a disorder in the brain function makes it difficult to integrate and organize the sensory input. Download our Sensory Profile Questionnaire Form.


      S.I. develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. Dr. Ayres taught that “Play Is the Work of Children.” For some, it does not develop as efficiently as it should. S.I. dysfunctions are a sort of traffic jam of the brain. Some bits of sensory information get tied up in traffic and parts of the brain do not get the messages to function properly. It is the foundation for later, more complex learning and behavior.

      S.I. dysfunction was what Dr. Ayres noted when children had difficulty processing sensation from the environment of their bodies which can result in “sensory seeking” or “sensory avoiding.” Kids are out of sync, emotionally, socially, and behaviorally. There are problems in arousal, attention, and organization behavior.

      The theory is used to explain the relationship between the brain and behavior and explains why individuals respond in a certain way to sensory input and how it affects behavior.

      The five main senses are:

          • Touch – tactile
      • Sound – auditory
      • Sight – visual
      • Taste – gustatory
      • Smell – olfactory


      In addition, there are two other powerful senses:

      • Vestibular (movement and balance sense) provides information about where the head and body are in space.
      • Proprioception (joint/muscle sense) provides information about where body parts are and what they are doing.
      Sensory Processing and Sensory Processing Disorder (S.P.D.) refer to the way the nervous system receives sensory messages and turns them into responses. S.P.D. exists when sensory signals do not get organized appropriate responses and a child’s daily routines and activities are disrupted as a result. This processing and organizational ability is the foundation for motor skills, social behaviors, and being able to accomplish more complicated tasks learned at school. Sensory systems help us concentrate on a task with the appropriate level of alertness. If these systems are immature, we compensate to gain the balance we need. S.P.D. is also used to define and describe the disorder/dysfunction symptoms in hopes of making this a universally accepted medical diagnosis which would enable insurances to reimburse for assessment and treatment.



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