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What is sensory integration therapy?

Therapists who specialize in working with children possess a different set of skills than those who focus only on adult mental health.

Because the psychology of a child is still developing and because early treatment of presenting issues is imperative, child therapists must be able to treat a wide range of conditions and concerns in a population with diverse therapeutic needs.

One such need is seen in children with sensory issues. Whether a child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing difficulties, child therapists may need to work with children who simply cannot attend traditional talk or play therapy sessions.

For these children, mental health professionals typically recommend treatment with sensory integration therapy.

Let's find out more about this specialized form of therapy and determine whether it may be right for your child.

Key Takeaways:

  • Children with autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorder can benefit from sensory integration therapy.
  • Sensory integration therapy is typically administered by an occupational therapist, which you can find or be referred to through your child's GP, mental health therapist, or psychologist.
  • Sensory integration therapy can help children self-regulate more effectively and understand how stimulation affects them.

Sensory Integration Therapy Resources on This Page:

How does sensory integration therapy work?

What benefits does sensory integration therapy have?

Who is sensory therapy for?

How to Find a Sensory Integration Therapist in Brooklyn

Child Therapy in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

How does sensory integration therapy work?

Sensory integration therapy is based largely on repetition.

Typically, a therapist - who, in the case of sensory integration therapy, is usually an occupational therapist - will first analyze a child's case and determine what levels and types of sensory stimulation they can and cannot handle.

Then, they'll work with the child during sessions to expose them to sensory stimulation in a repetitive but safe way, with the ultimate goal being to incorporate the stimulation into the child's nervous system, helping them to better absorb and respond to similar stimulation in the outside world.

The therapist will also likely craft a sort of "sensory diet", or a method and tally of sensory stimulation that the patient should and shouldn't be exposed to when not in a therapy session. The child's parent(s) can then use these guidelines to help keep their child safe and comfortable while they are making progress in therapy.

Sometimes, sensory integration therapy is done in conjunction with talk therapy or play therapy in order to continue improving a child's mental health in a holistic way.

Definition Template (26)

What benefits does sensory integration therapy have?

Some of the most important strides in mental health science in recent years have been in child behavioral psychology.

We are beginning to understand, through research and study, that there really is no such thing as a "bad kid." No one is really born innately evil; children with behavioral issues almost always have an underlying mental health concern. Once treated in a professional environment, children typically get better at self-regulating and become easier to instruct and interact with.

This is particularly the case for children with autism or sensory processing disorder. Children with these conditions can become overstimulated, which leads to intense distress, anxiety, and panic. When a child with a sensory condition has an outburst, it's not because they're "bad"; it's a facet of their mental health that can be addressed by a professional.

Beyond behavioral benefits, sensory integration therapy typically shows the following improvements for patients:

  • Better motor skills
  • Enhanced self-regulation of emotions
  • More independence
  • Improvements in planning and executive function

Who is sensory therapy for?

Sensory integration therapy can be used for any child with sensory issues. Most commonly, this means children with one or both of the following conditions.

Children with Autism

Children with autism sometimes struggle with sensory stimulation. While not all children with autism have sensory problems, they are usually present to some extent.

Sensory integration therapy can be used for children with autism to help them better understand how their minds and bodies respond to stimulus, as well as to let them practice regulating their emotions during stimulation.

Children with Sensory Processing Difficulties

Just like not every child with autism has sensory problems, not every child with sensory problems has autism. Children with sensory processing disorder may present many of the same sensory-related symptoms as children with autism, but will typically have more difficulty with the sensation of touch (whereas, by contrast, children with autism tend to struggle more with the sensation of sound).

Children with sensory processing disorder can benefit from sensory integration therapy much in the same way as children with autism: by incorporating sensory stimulation in a safe and controlled manner so that they can better manage the amount of stimulation they get in the outside world, as well as how they respond to it.

How to Find a Sensory Integration Therapist in Brooklyn

If you think your child may have problems processing sensory information or that they may have a condition like autism or sensory processing disorder, your first step should be to get in touch with a mental health professional.

A therapist or child psychologist will be able to determine a treatment plan for your child that may include sensory integration therapy. If that is the case, they will usually refer you to an occupational therapist, as they are typically the ones to administer sensory integration therapy.

Your therapist may also recommend talk or play therapy for your child.

It's important to note that parents should not attempt sensory integration therapy at home. Because of the nature of sensory processing disorder and autism, attempting to apply repetitive sensory stimulation to one's child can cause them extreme, debilitating distress and ultimately do more harm than good.

Child Therapy in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you're ready to take the next step in mental healthcare for your child, consider reaching out to a child therapist in Brooklyn.

Even if there is no "reason" to enroll your child in therapy, a mental health professional will be able to monitor and facilitate your child's development from a clinical perspective, giving you unrivaled insight as a parent.

Our team of child therapists is exclusively composed of doctoral-level professionals. Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will assist you in finding the right one for your child.

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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