The sensory integration frame of reference was developed by A. Jean Ayres an occupational therapist with post-doctoral training in education psychology and neuro science. The theory of sensory integration postulates that adequate processing and integration of sensory information is an important foundation for adaptive behaviour.
In this model shows how the interaction between the sensory systems the auditory, vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and visual systems provides integrated information that contributes to increasingly complex behaviours or end products and learning.
Key sensory integrative abilities
The abilities supported by sensory integration are consistent with the patterns of function and dysfunction identified through research. They include sensory modulation, sensory discrimination, postural- ocular control, praxis and bilateral integration and sequencing.
The abilityto modulate sensation contributes to the capability to sustain engagement despite variability, behaviour, arousal, activity level and attention. Sensory modulation provides the foundation to perform adaptively in day to day occupations. Adequate sensory modulation supports the ability to maintain an optimal level of arousal, attention and activity to meet the demands and expectations of the environment and task; it requires grading once response to the degree,nature or intensity of the sensory information.
Sensory discrimination refers to the individuals ability to interpret and differentiate between spatial and temporal qualities of sensory modulation or the ‘where is it,what is it’ and ‘what did it occurs’ response. Somatosensory discrimination refers to the ability to discriminate touch and proprioceptive stimuli.
Tactile discrimination provides information about the spatial and temporal qualities of the environment by perceiving the qualities of the information from skin receptor.Proprioceptive discrimination provides understanding of the body’s position and the local-tension on muscles and joints.Together tactile and proprioceptive information provides important information that helps a child’s develop a body awareness or body scheme which in turn provide the foundation for efficient motor planning.
Discrimination of vestibular stimuli allows the individual to know where the need is in relation to the rest of the body and in relation to the environment at large by providing information about the position of the head relative to growth and the speed and direction of body movement. Vestibular discrimination works with somatosensory discrimination and contributes to postural control, balance and equilibrium.
Discrimination of visual stimuli provides the foundation for being able to visually discern the position and location of object.Visual discrimination interfaces with vestibular, proprioceptive and auditory information to co-ordinate eye and head movement and to provide a map of the 3-dimensional world relative to the body’s position in space.
Auditory discrimination allows as to differentiate sounds used in speech so that we can defect the location of sounds and difference between a ‘p’ and ‘t’ such as ‘sheep’ versus ‘sheet’. Auditory discrimination is essential for understanding spoken language, following direction and learning to read and write.
Postural-ocular control involves activation and coordinating muscles in response to the position of the body relative to gravity and sustaining functional positions during transitions and while moving.
Praxis is the ability to conceive of plan and organise a sequence of goal directed motor action
Bilateral integration and sequencing
Bilateral integration and sequencing is the ability to use 2 parts of the body together for motor activities and is another features o praxis. Bilateral co-ordination and sequencing of action is built on the immediate perception of the body together.