Sensory Integration is a theory about treatment that was developed by occupational therapist A. Jean Ayres. Ayres believed that many behaviors we see in children are not willful but are a result of a breakdown of neurological function related to the child’s ability to integrate input from their senses.
The philosophy of Sensory Integration suggests that a change in input to the child’s nervous system can change behavior.
Sensory integration is the ability of the brain to process, organize, and integrate the information received from all seven of the senses. The two lesser known senses are proprioception and vestibular sensation.
Proprioception is the information we receive from muscles, tendons, and joints that tells us where our body is in space. Active resistance against gravity will activate the proprioceptive sense. The vestibular sense gets its information from the inner ear. This is our sense of movement and gravity including how fast and in which direction we are moving. The vestibular sense will be activated when we stop or start our movements.
Children may have a need to develop or increase sensory modulation skills. Sensory modulation refers to the central nervous system’s regulation of its own activity. Sensory modulation is how one responds to sensory stimulation.
Self regulation is physiological. The key to understanding regulation is that regulation helps with modulation. Occupational therapists can provide a child strategies for increasing self regulation or self management. Yoga strategies have been shown to be effective for self regulation.