Clinical Assessment of Sensory Integration
The sensory integration therapy can be conducted after the completion of comprehensive examinations by qualified therapists.
The assessment consists of:
Interview with parents
– refers to the course of pregnancy, birth and development of the child in the infancy period, past diseases as well information and opinions of other specialists.
– the parents fill in detailed questionnaires concerning the child’s functioning in everyday life. Let us remember that it is the parent who knows their child best and is the child’s best observer.
– the child is observed in its spontaneous activity and in task situations where they are to perform specific tasks or exercises helping to diagnose them and check the muscle tone, balance mechanisms, eye functioning, motor coordination and retained tonic reflexes.
South California tests
– are to determine the profile of maturity of senses and their integration. They comprise of several parts examining such functions as the ability to plan motor actions (praxic movements), the ability to locate a tactile stimulus, smoothness and coordination of movement, the ability to keep balance, the feeling of the body and arm’s movements. The majority of tests are designed for children over the age of 4. Younger children and children for whom the tests cannot be used (e.g. with mental disability, autistic children, uncooperative children) are examined with the help of selected trials of clinical observation and additional fitness tests.
– includes the discussion of results of individual tests and examinations, and recommendations put forward by a qualified therapist. The parents receive the assessment results and therapy programme in writing. A professional diagnosis should contain all of the above-described elements and detailed results so that another therapist could use it and so that it would be possible to compare the child’s results in the future. This will enable the determination of the child’s progress and the free selection of a therapist by the parents.
Sensory Integration Therapy: individual classes
The therapy employing the Sensory Integration method looks like fun, but it is ‘scientific’ fun through which the nervous system and the brain learn how to correctly respond to external stimuli.
The atmosphere of fun favours the child’s involvement in the activity and the achievement of better and faster progress.
Therapeutic classes take place once or twice a week (depending on the child’s needs) and last for 55 minutes. They are conducted by a qualified sensory integration therapist.
During specially selected motor play activities taking place in a room specially adapted and fitted with proper equipment for the stimulation of the vestibular, proprioceptive, touch, sight, hearing and smell systems, the child naturally makes up for the deficits within individual sensory apparatuses.
The SI therapy is based on the stimulation of the sense of balance during various play activities conducted with the help of suspended equipment (swings, platforms, trapezes, climbing frames, rollers). There are many exercises and play activities stimulating surface and deep feeling, the sense of sight, hearing and smell.
During the classes the child is encouraged and guided to perform activities leading to minimisation of their developmental deficits. The degree of difficulty of these activities is gradually increasing with the progress the child makes. They cannot be too easy or too difficult. SI therapy does not believe in failure, and every exercise should end with success and a positive experience for the child. Another important aspect of this therapy is the patient’s motivation. It plays a huge role when selecting activities.
The therapist allows for great freedom in the selection of games and exercises to some children, while others are offered activities specially selected for them. The children are encouraged to initiate and actively participate in play activities. The Sensory Integration therapy is usually pleasant to the child, but also requires commitment and sometimes a lot of effort. The therapist’s role is to skilfully encourage and provoke the child to be active even when certain kinds of play activities and exercises evoke their dislike or fear.