P o n d e r i n g s

... on How I feel About Sensory Integration

It seems like everything about autism is controversial. When I first came into the community in 1995, there were a lot of prevailing views I disagreed with, and which over time have lost their popularity as my views were borne out, despite the sharp criticism I received at the time.
One was to take the autistic children to the mall repeatedly to "desensitize" him, as if autism itself were little more than some sort of allergy.

Another seemingly controversial aspect of treatment of autism is a type of occupational therapy known as Sensory Integration Therapy, first discovered a few years ago by Jean Ayres. Looking back, I would say that the day I first received Sensory Integration was one of the best days of my life, right up there with the day I first went on the gluten-free diet.

Prior to having received Sensory Integration Therapy in 2000, I knew nothing about it or even what it was supposed to do, only that some autistic acquaintances had highly recommended it.

I was able to find a knowledgeable therapist a nearby school for children with special needs. After interviewing me as to what facets of my sensory system needed the most attention, it was decided that we should work on my sense of touch and sense of motion first. The therapist showed me some exercises involving pushing against a wall. She also showed me how to correctly apply deep pressure with a scrub brush to my arms and legs.

The motion exercises were a bit trickier because I lost my balance at first, so I needed to hold to something while doing them. Later, I found that walking around a merry-go-round, to my left, while holding on to it worked well too. Whenever I walked around to my right, I didn't feel any different. But one or two times around to my left, and I felt much different inside. It was like my entire system felt reoriented, and whole too. The therapy was also quite pleasurable.

After that first day, I was amazed at the results. I felt like my body was whole for the first time in my life, or at least as long back as I could remember anyway. My hearing and sight and touch sensitivities decreased dramatically the very first day. The same sharp sounds that had bothered me much just did not seem to bother me now; my level of sensitivity had decreased by about 80%. I was no longer so afraid of heights either. That

Crowd noise still bothers me as much as ever, but without the additional frustration from other areas of my sensory system dysfunctioning, I can tolerate a bit better now. No, maybe not everyone within the autism spectrum needs this kind of therapy, but personally, I think enough do that it should be promoted more than it is.

You see now why I believe in it as much as I do?

If you're interested in ordering my book "A Reason for Hope", or have any questions about autism, email me at . Thank you for visiting my page.

More Ponderings on:
  • New Year Resolutions
  • Rituals
  • Sensory Integration
  • Sensory Overload, #1
  • Sensory Overload, #2
  • Why I Chose To Speak Out
  • Working Together

  • * "A Reason for Hope: Insights into Autism" by Daniel R. Hawthorne, copyrighted 2007. "Child of the Forest" by Daniel R. Hawthorne, copyrighted 2004.

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