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What is Sensory Integration?
Sensory Integration is the organization of sensation for use so that we can respond.
Sensory Integration theory is based on the work of Dr Jean A. Ayres. It is based on the premise that the primary building blocks of the central nervous system are the senses, particularly the special senses - vestibular, tactile, and proprioception. All other skills are complex processes based on a strong foundation of sensory integration.
To put simply sensory integration is the ability to take in, sort out , and connect information from the world around us in an organized manner.
Sensory integration "puts it all together" so that when we eat an orange we have a total experience. We sense the orange through our eyes, (we see it), our ears (the sound of the skin peeling), mouth (the taste) our skin (on our hands and fingers and in our mouth) and information from less conscious sensory systems that tell us the exact position of our hand, how wide we open our mouth, how hard to bite down, how much to move our head to our hand. Sensory integration allows to put this all together to have and experience of eating an orange.
Sensory integration nourishes the brain by helping the brain properly digest the sensory information it receives.
Every moment countless bits of sensory information bombard our nervous system. It is estimated that 2 million bits per sec enter the central nervous system.
Sensations are the food of the brain. Without adequate sensory information the brain gradually becomes disorganized. In sensory deprivation tanks at first the person relaxes with the reduction in sensory stimulation, however after prolonged periods gradually the person become disorganized and start to hallucinate sensory information, much like a person in the desert hallucinates water.
The brain needs sensation and without it, it will create it's own. With too much unmodulated sensory information a person is also overwhelmed and they can either become over stimulated or so overwhelmed they shut down. So the brain needs sensory information as food yet sensory integration can be thought of as how we digest that food. Without proper digestion we do not get the nutrients from the food and without proper sensory integration we do not perceive the world correctly.
As we are bombarded with all this sensory data we need to
-Alert - attend or orient to new and/or important stimuli
-Protect - Defend us if a stimuli is too overwhelming
This is the first level of sensory integration. (Examples of protection in the tactile system. Failure to respond to name being called in auditory system) -Select - filter out the non-essential input. -Organize - Into meaningful perception.
This cycle continues with increasingly more disorganized sensory input and chaotic output and feedback. The consequences of a disorganized central nervous system are developmental lags, behavioral, emotional, and learning problems.
Many atypical behaviors observed in children can be better understood when the effects of a disorganized central nervous system are taken into consideration.
Without an efficient nervous system, we are unable to interact comfortably with the world around us.
First Level of Sensory Integration The Special Sensory Receptors
copyright Valerie Dejean 1998
Tomatis system auditory training. Spectrum Center, Bethesda MD. Valerie Dejean. Sensory Integration.
Tomatis therapy has been used to treat autism, dyslexia, as well as for sports enhancement for balance and coordination, a function of the inner ear. Recent book, The Mozart Effect, by Don Campbell, documents this music therapy approach. Basicly, the ear has two functions: hearing and balance. By getting to the inner ear through listening, one can affect balance and coordination as well as giving a person his Voice and his Place in three dimensional space.