Sensory Based Occupational Therapy Interventions

Sensory based occupational therapy interventions

A number of different type of intervention can be offered based on the findings of the assessment


Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory Integration (SI) Therapy this is the specific treatment approach using controlled sensory outputs. The therapist delivering the therapy has had specific training and can provide a rich sensory environment to work with the person. It is based on the work of Jean Ayres and should follow the principles of the Fidelity Measure (see Sensory UK Network).

The SI therapy is designed to be playful and fun as well as being child or adult centred, it is about active involvement and participation with equipment and materials that have been selected to provide a ‘just right challenge’ to engage the child or adult, but to help provide experiences from which the underpinning neurology can be stretched and opportunities for adaptation and change can take place.

Si therapy requires use of either a bespoke SI base where suspended equipment can be used or the establishment of a peripatetic sensory environment, which can still provide an appropriate range of sensory experiences in which SI therapy can be delivered.


Sensory Based Occupational Therapy intervention

Sensory Integration (SI) therapy sits with Occupational Therapy (OT) as OT is all about the use of occupations (activities) to promote development and learning. A fundamental occupation for children is play. When working with young people and adults the occupations may be adjusted but should still contain a playful fun element as this promotes development and active engagement.

Activities will be more structured and purposeful designed to address the identified deficits and may only focus on one or two sensory systems at a time rather than the full range as in an SI therapy session.


Sensory Strategies 

Sensory strategies are a way of adapting activities and environments to take account of a person’s sensory preferences. Use of specific activities to give increased sensation may be included with the aim that these become part of a person’s everyday life – feeding their neurological appetite and nutritional needs much like we have a daily balance diet of food to give us a healthy intake to provide us with the nutrients needed for physical health.

Sensory Strategies take account of specific needs and often involve modification of tasks as well as adaptation of environments, to promote participation in home, school, work or leisure situations.

A sensory strategy approach works particularly well with coaching and consultation approaches.


Sensory Diet

A Sensory diet is a form of sensory strategy, but it is often a more prescriptive approach to ensure that a person can engage in a specific sensory experience, on a regular basis, at a specific time during the day. The aim being to provide sensation that a person needs to promote self-regulation.

The aim is to provide a regular sensory experience that can feed the neurological appetite and meet the neurological nutritional needs much like we have a daily balance diet of food to give us a healthy intake to provide us with the nutrients needed for physical health.

A sensory diet should be an individually developed programme based on an understanding of the individual’s sensory needs.


Therapeutic Group work

Group work for children, young people and adults who are experiencing a wide range of needs can be helped in group settings.

Some group work may take the form of an activity that has an clinical benefit and promotes the development of skills and abilities e.g. craft or cooking

Some group work may focus on a skill or an ability that need to be developed that will help develop participation at school or work e.g. handwriting, relaxation techniques,

Other group work may be about helping to improve understanding and awareness of conditions and ways people can help themselves e.g. the Alert programme, or an anxiety management courses.