During the decade of 1950 to 1960, the occupational therapist A. Jean Ayres, PHD realized that restrictions on the functionality of many children in motor perceptual and emotional level were the result of sensory perceptual deficits than to any other cause. For this reason, she argued that the understanding of how the brain processes sensations, will give the basis for the effective treatment of many disorders.
The theory of Sensory Integration focuses on the ability of the Central Nervous System (CNS) to organize and interpret sensory stimuli (the body and the environment) to enable the individual to interact more in a functional and efficient way.
During the development of a child from the womb until the early years of his life, a child is flooded with plethora of stimuli, the processing of which help to understand the body and the environment in which it develops.
According to Dr. Ayres a child first comes into contact with stimuli coming from his own body and its relationship with space and later stimuli from the external environment. This process is the basis for successful editing of other known sensors such as sight, hearing, taste and smell that give information about things that are outside the body.
What is sensory integration?
Sensory integration is an innate neurobiological process for completing and decoding of sensory stimuli in the brain. Unlike, sensory integration dysfunction is a disorder in which sensory data are not organized appropriately in the brain and this can cause several problems in development, information processing and behavior. Dr. A. Jean developed the general theory of sensory integration and treatment through studies in neuroscience and studies of neuromuscular and physical development.
In which senses does it refer to?
Sensory integration focuses primarily on three basic senses: tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive.
What is the tactile system?
The tactile system includes nerves below the skin surface that send information to the brain. This information relates to touch, pain, heat and pressure. Their role is important for the perception of the environment and for automatic survival reactions.
What is the proprioceptive system?
It’s the sensation you get from the muscles, tendons and joints and gives us information on where to find the parts of our body in space. Even with closed eyes or without looking, knowing every moment where our limbs are.
What is the vestibular system?
The vestibular organ islocated within the inner ear and gives us information on the location of our head, direction and speed of our movement. This feeling is known as a sense of balance.
In which groups is it for?
• In children with brain damage
• In premature infants .
• In children with autism and other development disorders.
• In children with learning difficulties.