About this Research Topic
Background: Since the 1960s when Dr. A. Jean Ayres, first identified a new constellation of behaviors and symptoms as “sensory integration dysfunction” (SID), controversy has existed about the existence of these clinical features as a stand-alone condition or instead, are only seen in co-morbid diagnoses. In 1995, the Wallace Research Foundation began a 20-year initiative to study Sensory Processing Disorder (aka currently accepted name for what Ayres named SID).
Key features of sensory processing disorder have been studied at many levels: neurophysiologic data describing, the atypical neural stimulation-response issues, or underlying mechanisms of the condition), behavioral data describing the impact of the sensory impairments on social, emotional, motor and daily functioning), and treatment outcome data evaluating the value of specific techniques and processes on remediating the child’s challenges within in the context of the family.
Many aspects of the intervention for SPD have remained the same through the decades since it was first conceptualized by Ayres; Occupational Therapy, offered in a structured, safe environment to support sensory challenges and appropriate responses (now called Ayres Sensory Integration [ASI]). A related treatment model combining ASI with parent-mediated treatment has been proposed. By combining ASI with DIR (Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship Model) the intervention focus is expanded to include regulation of body and arousal, understanding and supporting relationships, and improving the child’s ability to function in daily routines and activities that represent success, joy, and quality of life. Beyond occupational therapy, there are now additional therapies being offered to children with SPD that are based on current neurophysiological research.
This Research Topic is designed to showcase studies funded over the past 20 years by the Wallace Research Foundation and others, that reflect this growth in science and knowledge. Advances in technology, assessment, and intervention have resulted in a surge of literature supporting the validity of the disorder and providing a better understanding of the symptom clusters, diagnosis, and appropriate treatments across the life space (infant to adult).
Keywords: sensory, perception, motor functioning, physiological mechanisms, brain mechanisms
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