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What is Sensory Integration Dysfunction?

Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration is defined as the process of ongoing sensory input so that the brain produces a useful body response, useful perceptions, emotions, and thoughts (cite). Sensory integration sorts, orders, and eventually puts all the individual sensory inputs together into a whole-brain function. When the functions of the brain are whole and balanced, body movements are highly adaptive, learning is easy and good behavior can be a natural outcome. The late Dr. A. Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist, was the first person to describe sensory integration dysfunction. According to Dr. Ayres, Sensory Integration Dysfunction is to the brain what indigestion is the digestive tract. The word dysfunction is the same as “malfunction” and means that the brain is not functioning in a natural, efficient manner. Sensory means that the inefficiency of the brain particularly affects the sensory systems. The brain is not processing or organizing the flow of sensory impulses in a manner that gives the individual precise information about himself or his world. When the brain is not processing sensory input well, it usually is also not directing behavior effectively. Without good sensory integration, learning is difficult and the individual often feels uncomfortable about him or herself and cannot easily cope with ordinary demands and stress.

Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Think of the brain as a large city and the neural impulses as the automobile traffic in that city. Good sensory processing enables all impulses to flow easily and reach their destination quickly. Sensory integration dysfunction is a “traffic jam” in the brain. Some sensory information gets “stuck in traffic” while other information can flow smoothly in the carpool lane. Sensory integration dysfunction is a malfunction not an absence of function. The individual with Sensory integration dysfunction has all the neurons in place, but they are communicating with each other. Many learning problems are the result of poor sensory integration dysfunction.

According to Dr. Charles Krebs, the brain seems to run by a program that says, “Do it in the most efficient way.” In all of its functions, the brain seeks optimum efficiency or the path of least resistance. If one specific function is not accessible, the brain will automatically go on to the next most efficient process for doing that task. If the second task is not available it will go on to the third, or the fourth most efficient way. Because each alternative process is less efficient, it becomes more stressful. The brain will keep searching for an appropriate processing method, until eventually, the activity may become so subconsciously or consciously stressful that the person will choose to give up trying to do the task altogether. Dr. Krebs gives an example of water running downhill. Running water takes the most direct route possible. If you block that route it will move towards the next most direct route. Each new block gives the water a long journey to the bottom, and too many blocks mean the water might be absorbed before it gets down the hill. This is exactly how the brain operates.

According to recent research, individuals who miss critical developmental brain levels are neurologically disorganized. This means that the brain is inefficient in its ability to receive, process, store, and utilize information. The result can be a lifelong struggle with learning, relationship failures, and the inability to navigate successfully through life. The training and “tools” that I have been exposed to have led me to find a way to connect one neurological puzzle piece that makes the sensory integration correction process easier and less stressful than traditional approaches. Keep checking this blog for more information on our remarkable journey to correcting many sensory integration disorders.

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