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Sensory Processing Disorder or other sensory processing issues are a condition that frequently affects children. Effective treatment of this condition cannot be carried out without studying sensory integration. This term was first introduced in 1972, and for four decades since it was appeared, the discussions about the concept and its application have not wound down. This topic has even become somewhat of a controversy, dividing the occupational psychiatry field into two camps. While some scholars believed sensory interaction disorders didn’t exist at all, other psychiatrists put great effort into researching the topic, and thanks to those scholars we now have a strong foundation for further study of the concept.
Generally, the term “sensory interaction” refers to the process of the brain receiving, processing and using sensory information for building our model of the world. This is why issues in the process of sensory processing often result in the lack of sensory feedback. Sensory integration, on the other hand, is the function of the brain that deals with identifying the senses and combining them to improve the way we react to the outside world. Under normal circumstances, both of these processes happen automatically. The five senses that are crucial for sensory integration are taste, hearing, touch, vision, and smell.
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Sensory interaction has an extensive scope of application in sensory integration therapy, which is aimed at finding the solution for effectively treating the sensory integration dysfunction. The mechanism of the therapy is very clear: during the therapy, the patient (usually a child) is subjected to graded sensory experiences, allowing the patient to gradually build an adaptive response to the experience. This kind of therapy is active, meaning the child should be highly motivated by the process, actively engaging in the activities. For this reason the most suitable therapy medium is play.
Although sensory integration therapy has repeatedly proved to be an effective and promising way to treat sensory disorders, new approaches and technology for the process is often presented by the industry’s leading scholars. A lot of institutions for children with sensory processing issues are fully equipped with various sensory tools, allowing the patients to access the latest achievements in the sensory integration therapy.
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