Sensory integration is the neurological process that allows our brain to combine the sensations from our bodies and our world into meaningful and useful information. When this process is efficient we are provided with the necessary information to allow us to participate and engage in our world so that we can interact, learn and develop. We are able to receive, interpret, process and adapt information in a meaningful and purposeful way.
As children develop, the ability to perform this process should become more efficient, thus enabling us to gradually utilize increasingly complex, multi-sensory information. For some children though, this process is not automatic. Their brain and therefore their body, has to work harder to complete the same tasks. This additional challenge inhibits their ability to fully engage in their world and their environment. Problems in learning, development or behavior may be evident.
Occupational therapists use sensory integration therapy, which includes the use of therapeutic techniques as well as the creation of a playful environment. This then facilitates activities to encourage an adaptive response and promote quality participation in tasks in which we find meaning and value. For children, this means the ability to engage in family activities, participate in school based settings, socialize with friends, enjoy play and leisure activities and perform developmentally appropriate self-care skills.