Speech Language Therapy for Children with Sensory Integration Disorder

Motor actions (for speech) are closely linked to sensory information received through movement experiences.

Ian - Sensory Integration DisorderIn traditional approaches to articulation and phonological therapy, the two most important sensory modalities are audition and vision. The viewpoint that "speech is movement" has brought to light the importance of intact sensory processing systems in the process of refining motor control during the early stages of speech development. The sensory systems that make large contributions to the coordination of movement patterns for speech production are:

  • The Tactile System: The sense of touch is the modality through which the child learns about position and develops the ability to discriminate differences in tactile sensations. Children who have sensory integration disorder may over–react to touch and are often described as "tactually defensive". Other children have tactile systems that do not register enough information, and they are referred to as "sensory seeking". In either case, information is not processed optimally, and motor planning for speech production may be affected.
  • The Proprioceptive System: This sensory modality provides information about the relative position of one part of the body in relation to another (e.g. jaw and tongue). As children move, sensory receptors located throughout the muscles and joints feed information to the CNS about position, and this information plays an important role in planning movements for speech production. Children who are under–reactive may not receive the sufficient input for the development of well–controlled movements.
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Sensory Integration/Occupational Therapy

The term –sensory integration– was developed by Jean Ayres, an occupational therapist. It refers to processes that occur in the central nervous system that are responsible for interpreting and processing information from the environment. These processes include audition, vision, taste, smell and the above–mentioned systems that provide information about touch, pressure and relative position in space. Children with sensory processing disorder may exhibit motor, learning and/or behavioral difficulties and may have problems with attention, self–regulation or organization. Occupational therapists specialize in helping children improve their sensory motor processing abilities, overall attention and organization, self–care and fine motor skills.

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PROMPT Therapy and Children with Sensory Integration Disorder

At Donna Lederman, SLP, PC, PROMPT therapy includes a diagnostic component that incorporates the motor, learning and behavioral manifestations of sensory processing disorder. Considering the link between sensory processing and motor learning, referral for an occupational therapy evaluation may be recommended at some point during treatment.

PROMPT therapy utilizes the sense of touch to enhance sensory input, helping the child to achieve speech production accuracy. PROMPTs provide increased sensory information about the place, timing and tension of muscle contractions for speech production. This information is stored and "feeds forward" as the child practices sounds, words and phrases used for functional communication.

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Clinical Note: Ian

Ian was referred to our practice by his parents, who had tried numerous times to obtain speech and language therapy for Ian through the Early Intervention Program. Although Ianís testing indicated a severe delay in expressive communication ability (greater than 2 SD below the mean), his high scores in receptive language areas caused him not to qualify. At 2 years 4 months, Ian used gestures and a few word approximations to communicate and did not socialize with other children. Shortly after his PROMPT® evaluation, EI services were initiated...  Learn More

Ian - Sensory Integration Disorder

Donna Lederman, Speech-Language Pathologist, P.C.
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