Welcome to the very first post on our blog. Through these posts, the South African Institute of Sensory Integration intends to share accurate information with the public and dispel myths. When we have accurate information we are empowered to help those who have various forms of sensory integrative dysfunction. Please feel free to comment and ask questions, as well as share these posts on your social media platforms.
What is Sensory Integration?
Jean Ayres, the pioneer behind sensory integration (1972), defined it as follows:
“Sensory Integration is the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment” Sensory integration is information processing. The brain must select, enhance, inhibit, compare and associate the sensory information in a flexible, constantly changing pattern, in other words the brain must integrate it” (Ayres 1989). Ayres also stated that adequate processing and integration of sensory information form an important foundation for adaptive behaviour and thus learning (Schaaf & Mailloux 2015).
The integration of sensory information from all of the senses is necessary to support optimal function. The senses include vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch, as well as the sense of movement (vestibular) and body position (proprioception). Ayres specifically emphasised the importance of the touch, movement and body position senses in the sensory integrative process (Ayres, 1972).
What are Sensory Integration problems?
Problems in sensory integration occur when the child’s nervous system is unable to process sensory information from the environment and the body effectively. More specifically, sensory integration problems explain those difficulties related to poor sensory processing and motor incoordination that cannot be attributed to obvious central nervous system (CNS) damage or abnormalities.
Research in the field of sensory integration over the last 60 years has demonstrated certain consistent patterns of dysfunctions in sensory integration. These patterns include challenges with sensory reactivity, sensory perception, postural and ocular control and bilateral integration as well as praxis (Schaaf & Mailloux, 2015) leading to problems with, among others, maintaining focus, adapting to changes in the environment, maintaining postures against gravity, integration of the two sides of the body, and planning and coordinating movements. All of these problems impact on a child’s ability to engage successfully in activities of daily life.
Next week we will explore what sensory integration problems might look like, and how they are identified.
[This piece was initially written for the SAISI promotional pamphlet and adapted by Karen Powell]
Ayres, A.J. 1972. Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
Ayres, A.J. 1989. Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
Schaaf, R.C. & Mailloux, Z. 2015. Implementing Ayres Sensory Integration®. 2015. AOTA Press: Bethesda.
SAISI Contact Details:
P.O.Box 14510 Hatfield Pretoria South Africa 0028
Tel: 012 3625457