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What is Involved in Sensory Integration Therapy?

Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) is an intervention that focuses on addressing sensory processing challenges in individuals with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). While it shares common goals across different age groups, the application and benefits can vary between younger and post-16 SEND learners.


  1. The goal of Therapy:
  • Younger Learners: For younger SEND learners, SIT often concentrates on foundational sensory processing skills crucial for development, including regulating responses to sensory input and improving motor coordination.
  • Post-16 Learners: SIT aims to refine and build upon existing sensory processing skills, focusing on more nuanced aspects like self-regulation, sensory modulation, and adaptation to sensory stimuli in various environments.
  1. Approach and Activities:
  • Younger Learners: Therapy for younger learners might involve play-based activities, sensory-rich experiences, and structured interventions to develop foundational sensory skills through exploration and interaction.
  • Post-16 Learners: SIT for older learners may include more complex activities tailored to their needs and challenges. It could involve activities promoting independence, self-regulation strategies, and interventions aligned with vocational or daily living skills.
  1. Integration into Daily Life:
  • Younger Learners: SIT for younger learners aims to embed sensory strategies into their daily routines, assisting in school readiness and overall development.
  • Post-16 Learners: For older learners, SIT focuses on practical application teaching strategies that facilitate participation in higher education, vocational training, employment settings, and independent living.

Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) caters differently to younger and post-16 SEND learners in terms of focus, life skills emphasis, and advantages:
For younger learners, SIT emphasises foundational skills, focusing on sensory exploration and basic regulation to address fundamental sensory processing issues. It aims to lay the groundwork for independence by refining sensory responses, improving attention, and fostering interaction skills. This sets the stage for later developmental milestones.

In contrast, therapy for post-16 learners becomes more specific and targeted. It addresses challenges in higher-level academic, vocational, or social settings, aiming for advanced sensory integration skills. At this stage, SIT prioritises practical applications, emphasising independent living, job-related skills, and adaptive strategies to handle real-world sensory challenges. It tailors interventions to suit the complex demands of adult life, nurturing skills essential for transitioning into adulthood.

The advantages of SIT for post-16 SEND learners are significant. It provides transition support by equipping them with vital skills for higher education, vocational training, and independent living. Furthermore, SIT fosters adaptability, aiding in the management of sensory sensitivities in various settings like workplaces, academic institutions, or social environments. Developing advanced self-regulation and coping mechanisms prepares learners to navigate the complexities of adult life while promoting enhanced participation, engagement, and overall well-being.

While the core principles of Sensory Integration Therapy persist, its execution differs between younger and post-16 SEND learners. For older individuals, SIT focuses on practical skills crucial for transitioning into adulthood, ensuring they are well-equipped to handle the challenges and embrace independence across diverse settings.

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