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Sensory Integration. How teachers, parents, and communities can support children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Capstone presentation created by: Christine Budai. “.

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sensory integration

Sensory Integration

How teachers, parents, and communities can support children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Capstone presentation created by: Christine Budai


Sensory integration occurs automatically in most people, so we tend to take it for granted, just as we take our heartbeat and digestion for granted.

What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration is the brain’s organization of physical sensations for use.

  • A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D
  • “Sensory Integration and the Child”
Is an unconscious process of the brain

Organizes information detected by the senses

Gives meaning to what is being experienced by selecting what to focus on

Allows people to respond to stimuli in a appropriate way

Forms the foundation for academic learning and social behavior

A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D

“Sensory Integration and the Child”

What is Sensory Integration?

the 5 senses and beyond

Visual (sight)

Auditory (sound)

Gustatory (taste)

Olfactory (smell)

Tactile (touch)


Proprioceptive (movement and position)

Vestibular (gravity, balance, head movement)


Visceral (inside the body)

The 5 Senses and Beyond

When a child acts in an adaptive manner, we know that his brain is organizing sensations efficiently.

signs of poor sensory integration
Signs of Poor Sensory Integration


  • Trouble rolling over, sitting, creeping, following movement with eyes


  • Falling, stumbling, bumping into things
  • Constant breaking and spilling of things
  • Difficulty interacting socially with peers
  • Trouble with fine and gross motor skills
  • Language delay
  • Misses details
  • Over or under stimulated by senses
what does it feel like
What Does it Feel Like?

A large part of a child’s capacity for learning is the ability to integrate sensory information.


Close your eyes and imagine yourself in an environment that is overwhelming your senses (fire alarm, strobe light, earth quake, etc) and think of doing a complex task, or daily work…


What is Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID)?

Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) means that the brain is not functioning in a natural, effective manner in terms of processing input from the sensory system.

When the brain is not processing sensory input well, it usually is not directing behavior effectively, either.

why is identifying sid critical
Children with SID often develop in “uneven”way

Speech and language delays are common signs of SID

Poor muscle tone and coordination problems also often accompany SID

When left untreated, SID can contribute to behavior problems

SID prevents students from accessing school curriculum

SID may hinder students from making important social emotional connections at critical points in their development.

Why is identifying SID Critical?

Sensory stimulation and motor activity during the years of early childhood will mold the neurons and interconnections to form sensory and motor processes

how to identify if a child has sid
Document behaviors, consult an OT/PT specialist

Use age appropriate SI checklists

Refer parents to OT/PT center for an evaluation

Refer parents to their family Dr. with their concerns


Unless you are certified, you cannot diagnose students with SID.

How to identify if a child has SID
what can teachers do
Document behavior

Support students

Communicate observations

Support parents

Create a plan of action

Modify curriculum to meet student’s needs

What can teachers do?

Society is placing more emphasis on language, academic, and intellectual development, and less on building the sensorimotor foundations for these higher functions.

why integrate si in the general curriculum
Why integrate SI in the general curriculum?
  • All children benefit from SI in the curriculum.
  • SI assists learning for not just children with SID, but also those with ADD, ADHD, Autism, and many other learning disabilities.
  • Most SI activities stimulate and “wake-up” the brain, making the brain more active, alert, and ready to learn.
  • Many SI activities involve movement, the U.S. Department of Education encourages at least 30 minutes of physical activity for children in school each day.
si for children needing input
SI for children needing input

Play-doh, salt dough, putty, slime, etc.

Sand or water table

Scent cards, jars (herbs, spices, etc)

Mystery boxes

Finger paint

Nature sounds

Passing unit related items

Cooking and eating unit based foods

Movement breaks, games, dancing

Singing songs in different voices, vollume levels

Brushing the body, rolling, squeezing

vestibular activities
Vestibular Activities

Scooter boards


Spinning chairs


Rope ladders

Fire Poles

Balance beams

Aerobic steps

Play tunnels

River rocks

si for children who need less input
SI for children who need less input

Create a quiet space away from classroom commotion

Give the child options of controlled input before transitions

Allow the child to distance himself from the activity

Work in small groups

Have noise-blocking headphones available for students

Dim lights when possible

Deep pressure activities

what can parents do
Recognize the problem

Help the child feel all right about himself

Control the environment

Communicate with other team members

Help the child learn how to play

Seek professional help

Remain positive

What can parents do?

When a child behaves poorly, a great deal of that poor behavior may come from ordinary sensations that this child cannot integrate.

respond proactively building on what others have done
Respond Proactively:Building on what others have done
  • Continue your own education
  • Change classroom settings and activities to accommodate all students, including those with SID
  • Reach out to share information with others around you, including parents and community members
  • Remain proactive and positive
  • Create a local support group for children and parents impacted by SID
continuing our education
Continuing Our Education

Additional reading

“Sensory Integration and the Child: Understanding Hidden Sensory Challenges,” by A. Jean Ayers

“The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder,” by Carol Stock Kranowitz.

“Answers to Questions Teachers Ask about Sensory Integration,” compiled by Jane Koomer.

what resources are available in the boston community
What resources are available in the Boston community?

Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation

OTA of Watertown

124 Watertown St, Watertown, MA 02472

Sensory Learning Center,

85 Constitution Lane, Suite2A

Danvers MA 01923

Talk to your pediatrician and childcare specialist

christine budai what i have learned
Changes within my practice:

Changes while in the masters program:

Christine Budai: What I have learned

The field of education is always changing and it is essential that teachers remain students too.

Every child benefits from sensory integration and having fun learning.


All quotes taken from (with the exeption of slide 19)

Ayers, Jean, “Sensory Intergration and the Child: Understanding Hidden Sensory Challenges,” WPS Publishing, 2005

Koomar, Jane, “Answers to Questions Teachers Ask About Sensory Integration: Forms, Checklists, and Practical Tools,” OTA-Watertown, Future Horizons, INC, 2009

Stock, Carol, “The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder,” Penguin Group, NYC, 2005

Capstone Presentation created by:

Christine Budai, Graduate Students at UMASS Boston