Sensory integration (SI) therapy (SIT) has been proposed as a treatment of developmental disorders in patients with established dysfunction of sensory processing, e.g., children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), brain injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, and eurotransmitter disease. Sensory integration therapy may be offered by occupational and physical therapists who are certified in sensory integration therapy.
The goal of SIT is to improve the way the brain processes and adapts to sensory information, as opposed to teaching specific skills. Therapy usually involves activities that provide vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile stimuli, which are selected to match specific sensory processing deficits of the child. For example, swings are commonly used to incorporate vestibular input, while trapeze bars and large foam pillows or mats may be used to stimulate somatosensory pathways of proprioception and deep touch. Tactile reception may be addressed through a variety of activities and surface textures involving light touch. A related method, auditory integration therapy, involves 10 hours of listening to electronically modified music over the course of 10 days.
Treatment sessions are usually delivered in a one-on-one setting by occupational therapists with special training from university curricula, clinical practice, and mentorship in the theory, techniques, and assessment tools unique to SI theory. Two organizations currently offer certification for SIT; Sensory Integration International (SII), a non-profit branch of the Ayres Clinic in Torrence, Calif, and Western Psychological Services, a private organization that has a collaborative arrangement with University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, to offer sensory integration training through USC’s Department of Occupational Science and Therapy. The sessions, are often provided as part of a comprehensive occupational therapy or cognitive rehabilitation therapy and may last for more than 1 year.