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Sensory Integration (SI, Ayres Sensory Integration®)

Interventions that target a person’s ability to integrate sensory information (visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular) from their body and environment in order to respond using organized and adaptive behavior

Evidence Based
Ages: Skip to Evidence

Steps for Implementation

Note: This practice is one of five strategies newly identified as an evidence-based practice (EBP) in the most recent literature review and report on EBPs published in 2020 by the National Clearinghouse for Autism Evidence and Practice (NCAEP). As stated on the TARGET page on research, TSLAT aligns its intervention content with the AFIRM modules created and published by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders (NPDC) at the University of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG). The FPG Autism Team is currently developing new AFIRM modules to reflect the recent research and address the five new EBPs which are: 1) Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 2) Behavioral Momentum Intervention, 3) Direct Instruction, 4) Music-Mediated Intervention, and 5) Sensory Integration®. Once the new AFIRM modules are published, TSLAT will update the TARGET intervention pages for these EBPs, including steps for implementation and a webinar on each new EBP.

Research and Outcomes

Research Summary

Age Range: 3-14

Skills: Communication, social, cognitive, academic/pre-academic, adaptive/self-help, challenging/interfering behavior, motor

Settings: Home, school

Evidence Rating: Evidence Based

The information found in the Research Summary table is updated following a literature review of new research and these ages, skills, and settings reflects information from this review.

Outcomes Matrix

The Outcomes Matrix shows outcome areas by age for which this evidence based practice is effective
Age: 0-5 6-14 15-22
Academic/Pre-academic Yes Yes
Challenging/Interfering Behavior Yes Yes
Cognitive Yes Yes
Communication Yes Yes
Joint Attention
Mental Health
Motor Yes Yes
School Readiness
Social Yes Yes
More about Intervention Outcomes

Sensory Integration (SI, Ayres Sensory Integration®, 1989) is a theory and practice that targets a person’s ability to process and internally integrate sensory information from their body and environment, including visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular input. SI uses individually tailored activities that challenge sensory processing and motor planning, encourage movement and organization of self in time and space, utilize “just right” challenges, and incorporate clinical equipment in purposeful and playful activities in order to improve adaptive behavior. SI is implemented by trained occupational therapists (OTs) and primarily takes place in clinical settings (Steinbrenner, et al., 2020).

*It is important to note that Sensory Integration® refers explicitly to the model developed by Jean Ayres (2005) and not to a variety of unsupported interventions that address sensory issues (Barton et al., 2015 Case-Smith et al., 2015; Watling & Hauer, 2015).