Help for children with autism has been reported in a new study. Sensory integration therapy was shown to help the children reach daily goals and reduce the amount of outside assistance they needed.
As practiced by occupational therapists, sensory integration therapy uses play, designed in ways to change how the brain responds to activities that involve touch, sight, sound and movement.
This therapy can provide practical help to children with autism, who have a hard time processing the data provided by their senses, including taste, smell, sound, brightness, texture and movement. This can make it hard for them to accomplish simple personal tasks and to socialize effectively.
Occupational therapists from the Jefferson School of Health Professions in Philadelphia conducted the study, which was funded by Autism Speaks. Their final report is available online in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders.
In recent years, many parents have stated that they noticed definite improvement in how well their child functioned after they started sensory integration therapy. This new research reveals specific benefits to sensory integration therapy for children with autism.
The study used two criteria for measuring its reliability. First, therapists used the Sensory Integration Fidelity Measures as their standard. Second, they measured accomplishments using a widely accepted goal attainment scale.
At the end of the study, results showed that those children in the sensory integration group had notably higher scores than those getting standard treatment.
With sensory integration therapy, the children’s brains change how they process external sensations, helping them perform routine tasks and social activities more effectively.