Research in Sensory Integration Therapy has increased considerably over the last 15 years. In fact, it is researched not only by Occupational Therapists but by other health professionals and academics. As referenced in “Best Practice”, Sensory Integration Therapy has clearly provided great discussion amongst peers, academics, researchers and other health professionals.
Thanks to one of our amazing OT’s, Mickaylah, we have summarised some of the most up to date evidence of Ayre’s Sensory Integration and included references at the end of this post if you would like to do further reading!
Introduction to the Evaluation in Ayres Sensory Integration (EASI) (2018)
The purpose of the development of the EASI assessment is to provide an updated, inexpensive, practical and electronically accessible evaluation of sensory processing and functioning in children ages 3-12 years old. The EASI is still in its early stages of development however, based on results from the feasibility testing its usefulness appears promising. This will allow greater access to a gold standard assessment tool for Occupational Therapists working with children. The next step involves modification to some of the subtests and then the EASI will undergo a pilot study which will give greater understanding into its reliability and validity.
Efficacy of Occupational Therapy using Ayres Sensory Integration: A systematic review (2018)
Despite the highly reported use of ASI therapy in clinical practice there has long been confusion about the evidence base behind its effectiveness. This is due to a large number of studies not adequately following the necessary fidelity measures required for appropriate ASI intervention. This systematic review supports the use of ASI intervention for children with Autism and found that the body of evidence is now growing. Results showed positive outcomes in areas related to; reading, literacy, sensory motor skills, motor planning, social skills, behavioural regulation and attention.
Specific sensory techniques and sensory environmental modifications for children and youth with sensory integration difficulties: a systematic review (2018)
Seven studies were evaluated for the effectiveness of specific sensory techniques for children with Autism and or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These strategies included Qigong massage, weighted vests, slow swinging and multi-sensory activities in preschool routines. The results showed strong supporting evidence for Qigong massage with improvements in self-regulatory behaviours, tactile sensitivities, ASD symptoms and parenting related stress. Moderate evidence supported environmental modifications and limited evidence was found to support the use of weighted blankets. Insufficient evidence was also found to support the use of tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular activities in preschool routines due to poor quality and low level studies conducted.
State of science of Sensory Integration research with children and youth. (2018)
Occupational Therapy researches continue to build a body of research that demonstrates the relationship between sensory processing and integrating sensory experiences in relation to functional outcomes. Research suggests that the outcomes of interventions can have effects on performance in a variety of functional areas such as school, dressing, communication and social. Current evidence states that more reliable and valid assessment tools are required in order to identify who would benefit from ASI intervention.
Altered cervical vestibular evoked myogenic potential in children with ADHD. (2017)
A number of studies have found a link between ADHD with possible vestibular dysfunction that may cause difficulties with standing and walking balance. This study examined both static and dynamic balance with results showing lower scores in dynamic walking balance for children with ADHD.These findings suggest that vestibular otolith function is altered in a significant number of children exhibiting ADHD symptoms. Further studies on the other areas of the vestibular system (utricular and semicircle canal functions) are needed to better understand the overall vestibular dysfunction in children with ADHD.
Effectiveness of cognitive and occupation based interventions for children with challenges in sensory processing and integration: A systematic review (2018).
There are a broad range of different interventions encompassed under the larger umbrella terms of ‘cognitive’ and ‘occupation’ based interventions. The results of this review represent only occupation-based interventions that are typically classified as leisure, such as horseback riding and yoga. These results support the use of horseback riding for increasing self-regulation skills, increasing social interactions, improving sensory processing and decreasing severity of ASD symptoms. Results also suggest that yoga based interventions can reduce distress and anxiety in children with ASD and sensory processing disorders.
Parental or teacher education and coaching to support function and participation of children and youth with sensory processing and sensory integration challenges: A systematic review (2018).
Family centred care is often considered best practice because families play the primary role in fostering a child’s development. This review found that despite the critical role for educating parents in strategies and therapy activities to complete at home, little research has been conducted in this area to support it’s efficacy. However, preliminary indications suggest that structured parental training and/or coaching along with parent-implemented strategies can result in positive outcomes after minimal hours of education.
Bodison, S. C., & Parham, L. D. (2018). Specific Sensory Techniques and Sensory Environmental Modifications for Children and Youth With Sensory Integration Difficulties: A Systematic Review. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy .
Cohn, E. S., & Lew, C. (2015). Occupational Therapy’s Perspective on the Use of Environments and Contexts to Facilitate Health, Well-Being, and Participation in Occupations. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy .
Isaac, V., Olmedo, D., Aboitiz, F., & Delano, P. H. (2017). Altered Cervical Vestibular-Evoked Myogenic Potential in Children with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. Frontiers in Neurology .
Mailloux, Z., Parham, L. D., Smith Roley, S., Ruzzano, L., & Schaaf, R. C. (2018). Introduction to the Evaluation in Ayres Sensory Integration (EASI) . The American Journal of Occupational Therapy .
Miller-Kuhaneck, H., & Watling, R. (2018). Parental or Teacher Education and Coaching to Support Function and Participation of Children and Youth With Sensory Processing and Sensory Integration Challenges: A Systematic Review . The American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
OT Practice. (2017). The American Occupational Therapy Association .
Pfeiffer, B., Frokel Clark, G., & Arbesman, M. (2018). Effectiveness of Cognitive and Occupation-Based Interventions for Children with Challenges in Sensory Processing and Integration: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy .
Pfeiffer, B., May-Benson, T. A., & Bodison, S. C. (2018). State of the Science of Sensory Integration Research With Children and Youth . The American Journal of Occupational Therapy .
Schaaf, R. C., Dumont, R. L., Arbesman, M., & May-Benson, T. A. (2018). Efficacy of Occupational Therapy Using Ayres Sensory Integration: A Systematic Review . The American Journal of Occupational Therapy .
Smith Roley, S., & Wilbarger, J. (1994). What is Sensory Integration? A Series of Interviews on the Scope, Limitations, and Evolution of Sensory Integration Theory . The American Occupational Therapy Association .