Sensory integration is the process through which we perceive, organize, and modulate the world around us. By utilizing our five senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing—we are able to form an understanding of our surroundings and respond appropriately.
Examples of Sensory Integration:
- Pulling your hand away from touching a hot stove
- Seeing a puddle and walking around it
- Smelling food before tasting it
In addition to the five familiar senses, we also have a vestibular sense connected to balance, and a proprioceptive sense which informs us of our body’s position; it’s how we’re able to, for example, walk without having to look down at our feet.
When functioning perfectly, sensory integration keeps us in check. We are aware of our bodies, our environments, and able to respond appropriately. However, for people with a sensory processing disorder, the reality is quite different.
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a condition in which the brain encounters a disruption while trying to receive and respond to information gathered through the senses. While more prevalently diagnosed in children, SPD can affect adults and is commonly observed alongside developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Sensory processing disorder can impact just one or multiple senses, and like autism, it comes with a full spectrum of symptoms. From having a strong negative reaction to common lights and sounds, to experiencing chafing at the touch of a light T-shirt, to frequently bumping into things, and having trouble sleeping, this condition affects every person differently.
Individuals with SPD could also suffer from sensory overload―a phenomenon in which the brain cannot prioritize what information it should focus on. Sensory overload in adults can make it difficult for them to engage with the greater community. To learn how you can help make positive changes in the community for people who suffer from sensory overload, read our article on becoming an autism friendly business.
Unfortunately, SPD cannot be prevented as doctors do not know what causes it. However, treatment is available.
How Sensory Integration Therapy can Help
Sensory Integration Therapy is a form of occupational therapy that involves specific sensory activities to help someone with SPD appropriately respond to light, sound, smells, touch, and other sensory input. Offered by trained occupational therapists, sensory integration therapy is based on interventions wherein an individual is exposed to sensory stimulation through repetitive activities.
Sensory Integration Activities:
- Taste games
- Finger painting
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Swinging or rocking
The idea here is that, as the therapist gradually intensifies the complexity of the activity, the patient’s nervous system will begin to respond to sensations and movement in a more organized way. Today, sensory integration therapy has become one of the most requested and utilized interventions for autism and other SPD-related conditions, helping individuals achieve improved focus, better behavior, and reduced anxiety.
Committed to Individualized Care
There is no one-size-fits-all care plan for adults with disabilities. At Covey, we are proud to offer specialized and individualized care to every person. Our caregivers support and include Sensory Integration Therapy when needed. For instance, if a Covey client has been recommended to use a weighted blanket from a qualified provider, then we will implement this therapy technique in their service plan.
If you or your loved one are interested in receiving individualized and specialized care, contact us today!