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Sensory integration, as said by Dr. Jean Ayres, is the organization of sensations for use. Our senses give us information about physical conditions of our body and the environment around us.
We have 5 senses, but also 2 other very important senses; our vestibular sense that detects movement of our body and the pull of gravity and our proprioceptive sense that comes from our muscles and joints to give us info about our body position. For the visual learners please see our video tab for videos explaining sensory integration.
The brain must organize all of these sensations if a person is to move and learn and behave normally. The brain locates, sorts and orders sensations as a traffic officer directs moving cars. When the flow of sensations is disorganized life can be like a rush-hour traffic jam. This can lead to many developmental problems as sensory integration is the foundation of a child's development.
In occupational therapy using a sensory integration approach, the child must organize his own brain; the therapist can only provide the milieu conducive to evoke the inner drive to do so. It is the child who must change within himself, the occupational therapist can only promote and guide.
To determine how the child's brain is processing sensory input, the therapist gathers information through clinical observations, sensory history and standardized tests.
If a child cannot explore his own potential, and it is difficult for him to so alone, the occupational therapist must intervene, bringing out of the child which he cannot quite bring out in himself.
An occupational therapist trained in post-graduate sensory integration, will be able to use spesialized tests in order to determing if the child has sensory processing disorder.
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