International Meeting for Autism Research: Sensory Integration From Different Perspectives

Sensory Integration From Different Perspectives

Saturday, May 22, 2010
Franklin Hall B Level 4 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)
10:00 AM
M. Boman , Kelly Autism Program, Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
G. R. Mancil , Kentucky Autism Training Center, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Z. Mailloux , Pediatic Therapy Network, Torrance, CA
Background: The complexity of the central nervous system is illustrated by the cascade of challenges faced by individuals with ASD, a neurological disorder that involves primary brain structures and functions (Bauman, & Kemper2003; Courchesne, Carper, & Akshoomoff, N.,2003). Increasingly, the literature describes the way in which these brain differences include sensory integration and praxis dysfunction (Crane, Goddard, & Pring, 2009; Dawson & Lewy, 1989; Dawson & Watling, 2000; Smith & Bryson, 1994; Deitz. & White, 2001) Minshew & Hobsen, 2008; Rogers & Williams 2007) report significant incidences of sensory sensitivities and sensory perception deficits in a sample of individuals with autism, suggesting neurological abnormalities in higher cortical sensory perception.  Ben-Sasson (2009) report that 14 different studies show sensory differences between individuals with an ASD and neurotypical individuals with greatests difference in under-responsivity, followed by over-responsivity and then sensation seeking. However, practitioners struggle to understand and address these needs.
Objectives: The ultimate goal is for individuals with ASD and the people who care for them to understand and manage sensory integration needs and challenges, for increased life satisfaction and participation. Although problems in sensory integration are relatively common, these issues are often difficult to detect, understand and cope with. Traditional behavioral approaches and positive reward systems may be successful for some aspects of changing responses, but if sensory and motor planning issues underlie behaviors, they will be likely to continue to be exhibited in some form. When sensory integration issues are treated using behavioral strategies only, the entire problem is not addressed which can result in partial success, and even greater problems emerging in the future, Sensory seeking, sensory avoiding and anxiety or withdrawal responses to motor planning challenges can occur across environments and situations and must be understood to be sppropriately addressed. For this reason, an understanding of sensory integration functions must be considered when working with individuals with ASD.

Methods: Three case studies from the various perspectives of different care givers were investigated. These include: Sensory Integration from an Occupational Therapist/Executive Director from Pediatric Therapy Network in CA; Kentucky Autism Training Center Director and father of two children with sensory processing challenges, and the Director of the Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University, servicing over  100 individuals with ASD.

Results: Sensory integration are viewed differently by the various service providers, but it is clear that educators must gain an understanding of sensory challenges that are exhibited by individuals with ASD. Currently, educators do not always understand these individuals and their sensory dysfunction. Many students are being restricted to time-out or even being suspended from school. Students as well as educators must be taught about these differences so that they can learn how to support then in the educational and community setting.

Conclusions: Through sensory modulation training, students with Sensory integration dysfunction can learn to regulate themselves. Educators should be trained to recognize these stressors so that they understand the support that they need to provide in order for these individuals to be successful. These case studies demonstrate the success that can be gained by providing sensory supports.

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