Method of sensory integration (abbreviation: SI)
was established in the 70’s of 20th century in the USA. Its author is J. Ayres, a doctor of psychology, occupational therapist, a research fellow at the University in California, who showed a relationship between neurophysiological functions and learning and behavioural processes. For this purpose, she construed research tools (tests) and commenced a range of tests which proved posed working hypotheses. Thus, J. Ayres distinguished factors, measured with tests, which occur in children with neural system dysfunctions. The author called them disorders (deficits) of sensory integration and defined their interdependence with muscle tension, planning motion, eyeballs movement, behaviour, development of speech and cognitive functions. The method of sensory integration is, therefore, based on neurophysiology and supported with many years of tests conducted by J. Ayres and her continuators in the USA and countries in West Europe. The sensory integration (SI) method reached Poland in 1993.
The Sensory integration (SI) is a method of learning through senses. We develop and learn by stimuli which reach our body with our sensory organs. Senses provide information on physical condition of our body and our environment. They are not only five most known senses (eyesight, touch, hearing, taste and olfaction), but also sense of proprioception (in other words, deep sensation - sense informing the brain about the body location and its movements) as well as vestibular system (sense of balance). The sensory integration starts in the first weeks and moths of foetal life and has its most intensive course between the 3 years of life and first classes of primary school, but it is also possible and successfully applied as therapy for older children.
In SI, the basic senses are:
- Vestibular system (sense of balance)
- Proprioception (sense of body, deep sensation)
The sensory integration is a neuronal process which takes place in the nervous system of each human. It consists in collection of sensory information and their integration for purposeful functioning. To understand the sensory integration processes and connect them with skills and behaviours of child is an enormous challenge for each SI therapist. The sensory integration processes with normal course are bases of motor, reading, writing skills and speech. In many children, both those within an intellectual norm and children with abnormal development, deficits (disorders, dysfunctions) of sensory integration can be observed. They are visible both in the motor field (clumsiness, problems with movement coordination, difficulties with balance maintenance, avoiding motor activities, difficulties with self-maintenance activities) as well as in the tactile field (intolerance of touch of other persons, foods, reluctance to manipulate with objects) or in the auditory field (intolerance of sounds, auditory hypersensitivity, delayed speech development). Children in whom the aforementioned symptoms occur can have difficulties in school education and, most of all, in everyday functioning.
as a method successfully used at work with children developing normally as well as in children with developmental disorders. However, it must be clearly highlighted that the method of sensory integration is not a substitute of integration and, particularly, in relation to children with developmental disorders, it constitutes an supplementary method. Classes conducted with this method are in the form of play (this method is called a method of scientific play) during which a child learns while playing (exercising) with the use of specialist equipment. Nevertheless, it is a well-planned time, directed at providing stimuli in a specified manner.