Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) – fun, safe and playful with positive outcomes!
Having fun, feeling safe and being appropriately challenged, (we call it giving an individual the “just right challenge,” which means the challenges are personalised to meet the individual’s interests, skills and abilities,) are all essential components of what your specialised therapist will deliver during Sensory Integration (SI) Therapy sessions. Success and trust are also important ingredients, for motivating individuals to take “risks” in order to achieve what you, or your child, may have thought they could never master at the beginning of your/ your child’s SI journey.
Children may be helped to play on suspended equipment such as a platform swing or a hammock to help develop optimal functioning of their vestibular sense including improving their balance and equilibrium.
This little boy (of his own accord and unable to explain why) went and spent half an hour under a fleecy blanket before suddenly getting up and going on our platform swing for his first time……… !
By undertaking activities which give resistance, we enhance our proprioceptive system which helps us to improve our postural control, body awareness and motor coordination (through the use of muscles, joints and tendons). Proprioception is also the basis for our physical sense of self and may help us to calm and organise our behaviour.
Propelling a scooter board on a carpet is hard work and even more so when you pull your therapist along behind you …… so is pulling in a tug of war – we are contracting our muscles and feeling stretch sensations – we are feeding our brains with proprioceptive stimuli.
Children (and adults) are encouraged to help themselves outside of therapy sessions by, for example, doing wheelbarrow walks, using monkey bars during play, generally doing push and pull activities, carrying weights (for example carrying heavy shopping bags or watering cans.) Your therapist will advise you on how you or your child can best reinforce what you are doing in treatment. Very often, given a chance, individuals, when they have found actions that feel good will seek out those activities.
With skin being the human body’s largest organ, our perception of touch impacts our perception of our body, as well as our relationship with the world around us, our development of praxis, and the fine and gross motor skills which we need to take part in (essential) activities of daily living.
Some individuals are super-sensitive to touch – for some, certain feelings of touch cause them to be overly emotional or have other behavioural reactions, and, others may seek out touch; some may need help to become more aware of sizes and shapes; developing their (tactile) discriminatory pathway will help them, for example, to find things in a pocket without using their vision. During therapy a variety of approaches can be used to help children become more comfortable with touch – the therapist will introduce a child/adult to activities (“the just right challenge”) at an appropriate time whether it be messy play (some enjoy swinging from a trapeze bar with their feet sliding on shaving foam), others would prefer to make biscuits or to model clay. For some they come to therapy unable to go swimming and may eventually come to enjoy being in the water and the same can be true of other activities that involve certain touch sensations.
We have given you a basic description of assessment and the type of activities that might be used in treatment related to the vestibular, proprioception and tactile systems; dysfunction may also involve other senses and will certainly be about how the senses work together; take riding in a bike rodeo, this is not just about balance but involves using both sides of the body, maintaining posture, using changing visual information to adapt and adjust how we move our hands to steer the bicycle and perhaps avoiding obstacles or taking part in a relay race at the same time!. Most every day activities are just as complex; it is for this reason that the integration of a full range of neural messages is needed. Crucially your specialist therapist will use the information they have gained through the assessment process and their knowledge and skill to plan /design and deliver a sensory integration therapy programme to help you /your child integrate their/your senses and develop the complex neural pathways necessary for life.
Our therapy space has a full range of equipment which can be used for treatment with the aim of achieving outcomes that you have identified with your therapist as targets at the beginning of your relationship with us.
Children and adults alike will be helped (through play/therapy) to use the equipment available to maximise the development of sensory integration and their resulting functional development during therapy.
Helping your child/yourself will also help those close to you to live less stressful lives.
Like all parents who want the best for their child, finding help, like that offered by our charity SENSORY PEOPLE, will offer them hope and confidence that their child will develop and become more confident themselves. Therapy will help children who may for example be experiencing depression and/or anxiety to develop their confidence and self-esteem, concentrate more in school, mix with friends more freely and improve their academic ability and performance. Some outcomes are difficult to illustrate, however below you can see the difference that Sensory Integration Therapy made to one child who came to us incapable of functioning in school and unable to write properly at the age of 6 and left us three years later with hand writing to be proud of and an ambition to be a history teacher!
Above…Writing – child age 6 at start of treatment
Above .. writing by same child 6 months later
Writing by same child after three years of therapy – now with an ambition to be a history teacher!
For adults who are motivated and choose to come for direct treatment you can expect to improve your sensory processing and achieve a decrease in your sensory symptoms, and, as a consequence feel less stressed as you engage and progress with your treatment programme and look forward to the potential of more a more fulfilling life.
Sensory Integration Therapy does not involve medical treatment or drugs, special diets or repetitive exercises.