Research: Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Theory
Addison LR, Piazza CC, Patel MR, Bachmeyer MH, Rivas KM, Milnes SM, Oddo J. A comparison of sensory integrative and behavioral therapies as treatment for pediatric feeding disorders. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 2012; 45(3): 455-71.
This study about children with feeding issues concludes that behavioral and SI therapy used together can build the variety and amount of food the child will eat, while minimizing inappropriate behavior. Suggested behavioral therapy includes working around a child’s efforts to avoid eating (example: leaving a spoon on lips until food goes into child’s mouth) and periodically offering positive reinforcement.
American Occupational Therapy Association. Providing occupational therapy using sensory integration theory and methods in school-based practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2009; 63(6): 437-456.
This article states that when children demonstrate sensory related deficits impacting their ability to participate in general education curriculum, occupational therapy using an SI approach is appropriate at school.
Ayres AJ, Tickle LS. Hyper-responsivity to touch and vestibular stimuli as a predictor of positive response to sensory integration procedures by autistic children. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 1980; 34(6): 375–381.
Results of this post SI therapy study of children with autism indicate that children who registered sensory input but could not adjust to it responded better to therapy than those who were under responsive to sensory input.
Ayres AJ. Effect of sensory integrative therapy on the coordination of children with choreoathetoid movements. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 1977; 31(5): 291–293.
This study affirms that children with learning issues, SI deficits and choreoathetosis (involuntary movements) who received SI therapy developed better eye to hand coordination.
Horowitz LJ, Oosterveld WJ, Adrichem R. Effectiveness of sensory integration therapy on smooth pursuits and organization time in children. Pediatrie und Grenzgebiet. 1993; 31(5): 331–344.
After months of SI therapy focused on eye movement, tracking and learning time for children with SI issues, this study recorded significant reduction in impaired eye movement as well as time to complete organizational activities.
Kimball JG. Using the sensory integration and praxis tests to measure change: A pilot study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 1990; 44(7): 603–608.
In this study, boys age 6 to 8 were pretested and post tested with Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT), before and after 6 months of occupational therapy. Most boys showed significant SI improvements. Author suggests that SIPT is useful for documenting client improvements based on SI therapy.
Lane SJ, Schaaf RC. Examining the neuroscience evidence for sensory-driven neuroplasticity: implications for sensory-based occupational therapy for children and adolescents. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2010; 64.3: 375-390.
Authors determined there is sufficient evidence, based on review of science literature published from 1964 to 2005, to support Dr. A. Jean Ayres’ SI theory. Results reinforce neuroplasticity, which promotes exploration of how the brain can change throughout life.
Linderman TM, Stewart KB. Sensory integrative-based occupational therapy and functional outcomes in young children with pervasive developmental disorders: A single-subject study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 1999; 53(2): 207–213.
In this study, two boys age 3 with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) which involves inability to socialize, communicate and use imagination, displayed significant post therapy improvements. These findings support SI based occupational therapy to help children with PDD.
May-Benson TA, Koomar JA.. Systematic review of the research evidence examining the effectiveness of interventions using a sensory integrative approach for children. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2010; 64(3): 403-414.
Based on a review of 27 studies about SI intervention for children with difficulty processing and integrating sensory information, authors verify that SI approach can result in positive outcomes.
Miller LJ, Coll J, Schoen S. A randomized controlled pilot study of the effectiveness of occupational therapy for children with sensory modulation disorder. American Journal of Occupational Therapy.2007; 61(2): 228-38.
This pilot study suggests that occupational therapy with SI approach can improve skills of children with sensory modulation disorder (exaggerated or insufficient response to sensory environment, or constant sensory seeking).
Miller LJ, Kinnealey M. Researching the effectiveness of sensory integration. Sensory Integration Quarterly. 1993; 21: 2.
Authors note that the effectiveness of SI therapy cannot be answered in an isolated study, but will require collaborative, longitudinal studies with a variety of subjects.
Miller LJ, Schoen SA, James K, Schaaf RC. Lessons learned: A pilot study on occupational therapy effectiveness for children with sensory modulation disorder. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2007; 61(2): 161–169.
Multiple pilot studies are still needed to test the effectiveness of OT-SI in children with sensory processing disorders.
Paul S, Sinen P, Johnson J, Latshaw C, Newton J, Nelson A, et al. The effects of a sensory motor activities protocol based on the theory of sensory integration on children diagnosed with pre-primary impairments. Occupational Therapy in Health Care. 2003; 17(2): 19-33.
Researchers evaluated effectiveness of the Sensory Integrative Treatment Protocol (SITP) for children with early impairments. The results of this study indicate that SITP is effective in reducing SI issues and helping young children improve preschool performance.
Pfeiffer BA, et al.. Effectiveness of sensory integration interventions in children with autism spectrum disorders: A pilot study. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2011; 65.1: 76-85.
To determine how to create trial research, identify outcome and address effectiveness of SI intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), in this study children with ASD received fine motor or SI treatment which resulted in significant decrease in autistic mannerisms for children who received SI treatment.
Schaaf RC, Benevides TW, Kelly D, Mailloux-Maggio Z . Occupational therapy and sensory integration for children with autism: a feasibility, safety, acceptability and fidelity study. Autism. 2012; 16(3): 321-7.
For this study, children with autism spectrum disorder received occupational therapy using SI principles. The authors conclude that intervention is safe and feasible and it is acceptable to parents and therapists. Therapists were able to implement accurate and appropriate SI therapy procedures.
Schaaf RC, Nightlinger KM. Occupational therapy using a sensory integrative approach: a case study of effectiveness. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2007; 61(2): 239-46.
The findings from this case study provide preliminary evidence supporting sensory integration theory and the effectiveness of sensory integration therapy.
Smith SA, Press B, Koenig KP, Kinnealey M. Effects of sensory integration intervention on self-stimulating and self-injurious behaviors. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2005; 59(4): 418-425.
Involving individuals ages 8 to 19 with developmental delays and mental challenges, this study suggests that occupational therapy using SI approach helps reduce self stimulation behaviors, enabling inclusion in everyday activities.
Watling RL, Dietz J. Immediate effect of Ayres’s sensory integration-based occupational therapy intervention on children with autism spectrum disorders. American Journal of Occupational Therapy.2007; 61(5):574-83.
This study concludes that positive outcomes of SI based occupational therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders are most evident during treatment sessions, and at home.
Wuang YP, Wang CC, Huang MH, & Su CY. Prospective study of the effect of sensory integration, neurodevelopmental treatment, and perceptual-motor therapy on the sensorimotor performance in children with mild mental retardation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2009; 63(4): 441-52.
This study concludes that intervention involving SI therapy, neurodevelopmental treatment, and perceptual motor (PM) approach improves sensorimotor functions for children with mild mental challenges. (PM skills are movement related and largely responsible for an individual’s ability to engage in athletic activities and interact with his or her environment.)