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What is Sensory Integration?

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Sensory integration involves perceiving, modulating, organizing, and interpreting sensations to optimize performance and participation.

Well-regulated and appropriately functioning sensory systems contribute to important outcomes in social-emotional, physical and motor, communication, self-care, cognitive, and adaptive skills development and maintenance.

Deficits in sensory integration can pose challenges in performing activities of daily living (ADLs), in addition to development, learning, playing, working, socializing, and exhibiting appropriate behavior.

Treating sensory integration is a common occupational therapy intervention used for children with Autism and other diagnoses.

Adequate sensory processing and integration of sensory information provide an important foundation for participation in functional, meaningful activities.

Studies show that children who receive intervention by an occupational therapist with advanced sensory integration training gain significant improvements in:

• independence with self-care

• improved social skills

• significant decrease in sensory based behaviors

Schaaf, R. C., Benevides, T., Mailloux, Z., Faller, P., Hunt, J., van Hooydonk, E., Freeman, R., Leiby, B., Sendecki, J., & Kelly, D. (2014). An intervention for sensory difficulties in children with autism: a randomized trial. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 44(7), 1493–1506.

If you have any concerns about your child’s sensory integration, contact an occupational therapist.

This information was generously provided by Katie Oien.

Katie Oien is an occupational therapist certified by the National Board of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and the state of California. She specializes in working with children with various neurodevelopmental and physical disorders and has experience in settings including early intervention, private practice, school-based settings, and medical therapy units. She is SIPT certified and has advanced training in sensory integration, reflex integration, neurodevelopmental treatment, feeding, and physical agent modalities. She earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Loma Linda University and is currently pursuing her doctorate in occupational therapy with a specialty in neuroscience from Thomas Jefferson University.

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