What is Sensory Integration?

The concept of sensory integration comes from a body of work developed by A. Jeans Ayres, PhD, OTR.  As an occupational therapist, Dr. Ayres was interested in the way in which sensory processing and motor planning disorders interfere with daily life function and learning.  Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound and pull of gravity.  The process of the brain organizing and interpreting this information is called sensory integration.  Sensory integration provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and behavior. 

In most individuals effective sensory integration occurs automatically, unconsciously and without effort.  In some people, however, the process is inefficient, demanding effort and attention with no guarantee of accuracy.  When this occurs, the goals we strive for are not easily attained.  In most children, sensory develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities.

signs of a sensory processing disorder:

  • Overly sensitive or under reactive to touch, movement, sights or sounds
  • An activity level that is unusually high or unusually low
  • Impulsive, lacking self-control
  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty transitioning from one activity or place to another
  • Inability to calm or relax
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Picky or messy eater
  • Poor attention and/or auditory comprehension
  • Speech and language delays
  • Difficulty with fine and gross motor skills
  • Learning disabilities