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Sensory Integration Therapy for Cerebral Palsy - featured November 5, 2010

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Sensory Integration Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

By: Kimberley Powell

Using SI Therapy to Treat Children with SI Dysfunction
© Kimberley Powell, Nov 30, 2008

Unusual responses to sensory stimuli are common and prominent in children with cerebral palsy.

For most children, the process of sensory integration develops naturally and helps the child to learn new skills and explore the environment. For some children, however, this development does not progress along the usual course and results in difficulties in learning, behaviour and/or attention.

Sensory Integrative Dysfunction (SID, also called sensory processing disorder) is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with processing information from the five senses (vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste), the sense of movement (vestibular system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception). Those who have sensory integration dysfunction may be unable to respond to certain sensory information by planning and organizing what needs to be done in an appropriate and automatic manner.

Developed by Jean Ayres, Ph.D., OTR, sensory integration therapy (SIT) is a treatment approach that aims to provide the child with graded sensory experiences matched with a “just right challenge,” an activity that requires the child to give an adaptive response. SIT is an active therapy; the child must be motivated by and engaged in the activities. Activities usually involve the use of large pieces of equipment such as big balls, trampolines, etc. which provide intense proprioceptive, vestibular and tactile experiences. The child is encouraged to explore the equipment and the therapist sets up the activities and the environment to challenge the child to use his/her sensory input to organize an appropriate or adaptive response. Therapy is individualized to meet the child's specific needs for development.

The Sensory Integration Room

A sensory integration room is designed to make the child want to run into it and play. During sensory integration therapy, the child interacts one-on-one with the occupational therapist and performs an activity that combines sensory input with motion. In the formative stages, everything in the environment in which a child is placed will be absorbed and this helps form lasting behavioural patterns that a child will carry into adulthood.

The child is guided through all of these activities in a way that is stimulating and challenging. The focus of sensory integration therapy is helping children with autism combine appropriate movements with input they get from the different senses.

By providing sensory integration therapy, occupational therapists are able to supply the vital sensory input and experiences that children with SID need to grow and learn. The sensory integrative approach is guided by one important aspect-the child's motivation in selection of the activities. By allowing children to be actively involved, and explore activities that provide sensory experiences, children become more mature and efficient at organizing sensory information.

What Parents Can Do at Home

Parents can help their child by realizing that play is an important part of their child's development. A parent can integrate sensory integration into the home by providing many different opportunities for a child to move in different ways and feel different things. A swing set, for example, can be a form of sensory integration therapy, as can a ball pit or a lambskin rug.

Addressing sensory issues may be a very long process. Sensory integration therapy strives to improve the child’s ability to respond to information from the senses and it appears to help many individuals with cerebral palsy. For a child to fully benefit from sensory integration therapy, the experience should be initiated at an early age. After all, the way a child behaves or interacts influences how individuals will interact with them. A child with sensory integration dysfunction may feel insecure in completing daily tasks because of their uncertainty of the environment. Sensory integrative dysfunction is generally not a visible disability; therefore a child may be treated unfairly.


The copyright of the article Sensory Integration Therapy for Cerebral Palsy in Disabilities is owned by Kimberley Powell. Permission to republish Sensory Integration Therapy for Cerebral Palsy in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

We have published this article with the express permission of Kimberly Powell

Our Featured Author: Kimberley Powell

Kim Powell holds a Master’s Degree in Speech & Language Pathology as well as certificates in reading Braille, Applied Studies in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Child Psychology, Acquired Brain Injuries, oral deaf education and Child abuse.

Over the years, Kim has had the opportunity to work with children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, acquired brain injuries & fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. During her free time, Kim volunteers at her local Children’s Aid Society, sits on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) committee for Resources for Exceptional Children and works as a child abuse prevention educator for the Red Cross. Kim values the opportunity to work with so many children and help make a small difference in the lives of children and families. She continues to advocate for a system that will guarantee that every child/youth – regardless of geography, parental income and the level of challenge access to quality support services that respond to their individual needs.

Please support of Authors visit Kimberly Powell's blog HERE

Tags: Newsletter 5 November 2010 Sensory Motor Skills - Sensory Integration Sensory Processing Disorder OT Cerebral Palsy Article