Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) is an occupational therapy approach involving swinging, bouncing and playing with tactile materials as part of its sensory activities. The goal of sensory integration therapy is to enhance an individual’s capacity for processing sensory information efficiently in order to enhance functioning and quality of life.
Autism spectrum disorder affects many individuals differently, making them unable to process sensory information effectively. They may avoid certain textures, sounds or smells and experience anxiety in overstimulated environments.
1. Increased Self-Esteem
Sensory integration therapy is typically administered by occupational therapists who specialize in improving immediate sensory symptoms as well as managing long-term ones. It may also be used in combination with other treatments like speech and language therapies, physiotherapy and medications to achieve positive results.
Sensory processing difficulties can leave people feeling overwhelmed by touch, sound, sight, taste, scent and movement – impacting everyday living and making simple tasks seem challenging or impossible.
SI treatments may involve play activities like brushing, swinging and using weighted vests to apply deep pressure. This sends a calming signal to the part of the brain responsible for activating fight-or-flight responses and can ultimately help people become calmer and focused, potentially aiding more efficient learning experiences.
2. Better Sleep
One study reported that parents reported their kids sleeping better after receiving sensory stimulation such as swinging, jumping on a trampoline or having their skin brushed. Such techniques may help reduce anxiety or agitation which may interfere with restful slumber.
Sensory integration therapy entails using play-based activities to modify how the brain responds to various types of sensory stimuli. It is carried out by occupational therapists with advanced training in sensory integration.
No matter if your child has autism spectrum diagnosis, ADHD or another genetic syndrome; it’s essential that they discuss how sensory issues may be impacting their day-to-day lives and what treatments may help. A qualified occupational therapist may conduct a comprehensive assessment and devise a sensory diet.
3. Better Focus
Sensory integration therapy (SIT) is a form of occupational therapy (OT), offered by specially-trained occupational therapists and consisting of sensory activities that assist children to better respond to light, touch, smells, taste and movement. Children often find these activities fun rather than tedious such as swinging on swing sets or pillows between exercise pads/pillows; riding scooter boards; and even spinning to music!
Sensory strategies like these can be invaluable tools when children become frustrated, anxious or overwhelmed to help promote focus and self-regulation. Regular use can even prevent sensory overload from ever happening – an ounce of prevention is worth more than its weight! For more on these techniques, see Raising a Sensory Smart Child.
4. Better Memory
Sensory memory refers to the short-term storage of sensory information. It only lasts a few seconds before being forgotten unless transferred into another form of memory.
Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) is an approach for treating sensory processing disorder that enhances sensory memories and allows us to process information more rapidly and efficiently. As a form of occupational therapy, when done properly SIT may even reduce anxiety among people living with autism.
Sensory integration therapy is typically led by occupational therapists, and may take place in various environments equipped with sensory equipment. Two popular forms of sensory integration therapy are SIPT and DIR/Floortime; occupational therapy specialists will recommend the most appropriate solution based on an assessment results report.
5. Reduced Anxiety
At some point or another, everyone experiences being too sensitive or undersensitive to sensory inputs; music may sound too loud; bright lights can be overwhelming; and headaches make it difficult to focus. These feelings typically don’t negatively impact day-to-day functioning but for someone with sensory processing disorders they can be much more than an inconvenience.
Over time, sensory integration therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety by improving how we respond and process sensory information. For instance, someone who feels overwhelmed by touch may learn how to use pressure to calm their nervous system and increase tolerance of touch sensation.
Sensory Integration Practitioners such as occupational therapists or speech and language therapists who have undertaken additional, rigorous postgraduate training are uniquely qualified to deliver this therapy, making it a powerful way of treating children with autism spectrum disorder and other sensory-processing disorders.