Sensory Integration

Visit the Sensory Integration Network Website for further information.

‘Sensory Integration sorts, orders and eventually puts all the sensory inputs together into whole brain function.’ Jean Ayres 1979. What emerges from this process is increasingly complex behaviour, the adaptive response and occupational engagement.

Our life is full of sensory experience.  We all respond to sensory information. We touch, move, see, hear, taste and smell and are aware of or are subconsciously aware of where we are and how we interact with the environment. When we manage to interpret sensory information with ease, it impacts on our behaviour at a subconscious level.

  • Sometimes we seek sensory information to make us feel better (e.g. a cuddle)
  • Sometimes we retreat from sensory information if it makes us feel overwhelmed (e.g. very loud noises)

If a young person has difficulties making sense of this information, their behaviour may not meet the demands of the environment. We might pay too much attention to the unnecessary sensory information or not enough attention to the necessary sensory information, to perform an activity, feel calm or pay attention. This can cause us problems.  For example, a child who has difficulty integrating tactile (touch) input may avoid unpleasant touch experiences such as getting his hands messy with paint, sand, or glue, while another child may crave such touch input and actively seek it out. We may not be fully aware of what is happening, be distracted, uncomfortable, confused or perhaps easily upset because the information we are receiving is not clear enough for us to understand what is really happening. We also may enjoy certain experiences and a little planning to include these might just help us calm down.)

Through sensory integration, pupils are provided with opportunities throughout the day to help address sensory needs.  This can take different forms from bouncing to swinging and from deep pressure, weighted blankets or bear-hug vests.  Sensory integration work is carried out in collaboration with Occupational Therapy and takes places throughout the school.