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Building Bridges through Sensory Integration

By Ellen Yack, Shirley Sutton, and Paula Aquilla


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Reviewer: Allison Martin

Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration (Occupational Therapy for Children with Autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders) provides instructions for the use of sensory integration and other occupational therapy techniques with young children diagnosed with PDD or autism. The book starts with a brief overview of the theory and limited research into sensory integration applications for children with autism.

Written by three occupational therapists, the authors are careful to distinguish research results from theory (unlike many publications on SI disorder). The text then leads into a summary of sensory integration theory and diagnosis. The bulk and most useful part of the book are the suggestions for integrating sensory activities and dealing with sensory problems in the environment - school, eating, social situations, tooth brushing, play, and so on. This part appears comprehensive - many of these activities and techniques were used with my son either at school or in private therapy. In reading this book, you can judge for your own child which might be useful. The book ends with examples of specific gross motor activities and a bibliography.

This book would be useful to Occupational Therapists already familiar with Sensory Integration who wish to include more techniques in their practice. It is also useful for parents or teachers of toddler through young elementary school age children who want to understand more about the subject.

Quote from the book:

Many children with PDD have poor sensory awareness of their mouths and/or low muscle tone, both which make chewing food more difficult. They may dislike the feel of certain food so they do not become good "chewers." All mouth activities will be more successful if the child is in a comfortable and secure position. Make sure their feet are supported and the table is at elbow height.

Activities to Try:

  • A small battery powered vibrator/massager can be played with for a few minutes before the meal to build up muscle tone in the cheeks and tongue if the child has low tone in these areas.
  • Brush the sides of the tongue when you brush the teeth. This can help get more tongue movement sideways which is needed for chewing. An electric toothbrush provides another way to brush the teeth.
  • A "chew stick" is a Popsicle stick with the end wrapped in gauze and dipped in orange juice, grape juice, etc. (something the child likes). The child chews the end to get the flavor...

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