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Sensory integrative therapy

This form of therapy is based on the work of A. Jean Ayers, an occupational therapist, who believed that learning problems were related to difficulties in processing incoming stimuli. She also believed that the development of higher intellectual processes is dependent on primitive parts of the brain developing first.

The therapy consists of manoeuvres such as getting the child to spin, ride a scooter down a ramp, swing, and crawl. It also involves stimulating the child’s skin with materials of various textures and a battery-operated brush.

It is questionable whether such techniques influence a child’s learning in academic areas. Ayers claimed that children treated by her methods made exceptional academic gains, but this has not been confirmed by independent workers.

On the basis of both theoretical considerations, and the evidence, it seems highly unlikely that a child can learn a complex skill, such as reading, by riding a scooter or swinging. Time spent on such manoeuvres is probably better utilized giving the child practice at the specific skill that he needs to learn, whether that is spelling or buttoning his shirt. Sensory integration programmes that involve activities such as spinning and creeping may be humiliating for some children.

 
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