Why Does Sensory Integration Work for Patients with Autism?

by Liran Davidovich

Why Does Sensory Integration Work for Patients with Autism?

Children or adults who have autism, as well as other kinds of disabilities, typically have sensory systems that are dysfunctional. Sometimes one or more of their senses are either under-reactive or over-reactive in response to a stimulus. As a result, behaviours exhibited by such patients may include such actions as hand-flapping, rocking or spinning.

How This Dysfunction Occurs
While the receptors for the senses are situated in the peripheral nervous system, the issue, it is believed, originates from a neurological dysfunction within the central nervous system and the brain. The peripheral nervous system comprises most of the body's nerves, except those found in the spinal cord and brain.

As a result, sensory integration methods, such as pressure and touch, can be used to facilitate awareness and attention as well as lessen overall arousal. Sensory integration itself is defined as a neurobiological process that relates back to the interpretation and integration of sensory stimulation in the brain.

Any related dysfunction then comes about because the sensor input is not organized properly in the brain,and therefore causes differing degrees of issues related to information processing, development and behavior.

The Three Fundamental Senses
A general theory of this type of integration has been formulated by Dr. A. Jean Ayres. This type of information is related to neuromuscular functioning and physical development, focusing mainly on the three fundamental senses: vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile.

These interconnections begin developing before a child is born and continue to form as a baby gets older and acclimates himself to his surroundings. The three mentioned senses are not inter-linked, but instead are connected with systems in the brain.

While these sensory systems are not as familiar to us as sound and vision, they are still crucial to our survival. The inter-relationship between these disparate systems is complicated. All in all, though, these sensory systems permit us to interpret experience and respond in varying ways to the stimuli in our surroundings.

For example, the tactile system is made up of the nerves found just under the surface of the skin that send information back to the brain. This information relates to temperature, pressure, pain and touch. This system plays a critical role in one’s perception of the environment as well as the development of protective responses crucial for our survival.

Any dysfunction in the aforementioned system can be displayed as signs of withdrawal when a person is touched or refuses to eat certain foods that are “textured.” A dysfunction can also cause the sufferer to avoid getting his hands dirty or using the tips of his fingers rather than his hands in order to manipulate items. Pain may result in hyper- or hypo-sensitive reactions and trigger responses that include distractibility, hyperactivity or irritability.

In fact, a dysfunction can result in tactile defensiveness in which a person is exceptionally sensitive to even the lightest of touches. When you regard it theoretically, the tactile system, when malfunctioning, causes abnormal neural signals to be relayed to the brain’s cortex, thereby interfering with other cerebral processes.

As a result, the brain can become overly stimulated, which can lead to an excess in brain activity – something that can neither be organized nor stopped. As a result, when a person cannot organize his behavior or concentrate, he will negatively respond to touch.

These kinds of dysfunctions make it imperative to use a product from which the patient can receive some relief from excess sensory functions. In order for this to occur, a patient must use certain kinds of therapeutic tools.

To discover more about how patients with autism can be helped, you can obtain further details about the benefits of using a sensory swing here. The sensory swing, which is featured on the site, is a viable therapeutic tool that can assist patients, especially children, respond more positively to stimuli.

Liran Davidovich
Liran Davidovich


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