OT-SI and Other Therapies

Occupational Therapy using a Sensory Integrative approach (OT-SI) www.sensoryhealth.org

Also see American Occupational Therapy Association aota.org and Sensory Processing Institute of Research and Learning (SPIRAL) Foundation www.thespiralfoundation.org/about/

Professional: Occupational Therapist

The most appropriate therapy for SPD is OT-SI. Occupational therapy is the use of a purposeful activity to maximize the independence and maintenance of the health of an individual who is limited by a physical injury or illness, cognitive impairment, a psychosocial dysfunction, a mental illness, a developmental or learning disability, or an adverse environmental condition. The practice encompasses evaluation, assessment, treatment, and consultation. For a child, purposeful activities include swinging, climbing, jumping, buttoning, drawing and writing. Such activities are the child’s “occupation.”

An occupational therapist is a health professional who has received a baccalaureate and at least a master’s degree after completing a course of study, plus internship experience, in biological, physical, medical, and behavioral sciences. Coursework includes neurology, anatomy, orthopedics, psychology, and psychiatry.

The occupational therapist may work with the person individually or in a group, at school, in a clinic, hospital, community mental health center, or your home. The ideal occupational therapist for a young child is one who specializes in pediatrics and who has received additional, postgraduate training in sensory integration theory and treatment.

The specific goals of occupational therapy using a sensory integration (OT/SI) framework are to improve the person’s social participation, self-esteem, self-regulation and sensory-motor abilities.

Under the guidance of a therapist, the child actively takes in movement and touch information in playful, meaningful, and natural ways that help his brain modulate these fundamental neural messages. The child responds favorably to SI treatment, because his nervous system is pliable and changeable. Therapy teaches the child to succeed—and he loves it!

Adolescents and adults also can benefit from OT-SI. Even if the central nervous system is most malleable during early childhood, it continues to be changeable throughout a person’s life span.  https://sensoryhealth.org/basic/treatment-for-adults-sensory-challenges

Physical Therapy

American Physical Therapy Association
Find a therapist:
also see www.sensoryhealth.org/treatment-directory

Professional: Physical therapist with training in SI theory and treatment

Physical therapy is a health profession devoted to improving an individual’s physical abilities. It involves activities that strengthen the child’s muscular control and motor coordination, especially of his large muscles. Sometimes using physical agents such as massage, whirlpool baths or ultrasound, physical therapists help the child get his muscles ready for voluntary movement. Some physical therapists receive additional training in sensory integration theory and treatment, which is called PT-SI.

Speech-and-Language Therapy

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Also see www.sensoryhealth.org/treatment-directory

Professional: Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP)

Speech-language therapy includes activities designed to meet specific goals for the individual. A child may need help with speech skills, such as pronouncing “L,” “K,” or “Sh” sounds; monitoring the pitch of his voice; and strengthening oral-motor control in the muscles of his mouth. He may also benefit from activities designed to expand his language skills, such as retelling stories, conversing, and playing games to develop memory and vocabulary. As many people with SPD are picky eaters, therapy with a speech pathologist trained in oral-motor and feeding issues may be very helpful. Indeed, when the client receives co-treatment simultaneously from an occupational therapist trained in this area, optimal benefits of getting in the mouth occur.

Auditory Training

Various auditory therapies, based on the method developed by Alfred Tomatis, include:

Advanced Brain Technologies (The Listening Program®)

Berard Auditory Integration Training (AIT)

Safe and Sound Protocol

At this website, you can also learn about Dr. Stephen Porges' Polyvagal Theory, the science of feeling safe.

Integrated Listening Systems© (iLs)

Tomatis® Method

Vital Links (Therapeutic Listening®)

Professional: Audiologist, Speech-and-Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, or other qualified specialists

Auditory training is a method of sound stimulation designed to improve a person’s listening and communicative skills, learning capabilities, motor coordination, body awareness, and self-esteem.  Several times a week, the child/adult listens to music and voices filtered through special headphones, engages in specific visual and balance activities, and may participate in voice work. These forms of therapy help the ear to attend to and discriminate among sounds; the brain to utilize information better from the auditory and vestibular systems about space, and the person to become more focused, grounded in his body, and organized.

Vision Therapy, or Vision Training (VT)

College of Optometrists in Vision Development
Resource for finding certified optometrists and vision therapists

Optometrists Network
Online library for vision therapy, children's vision, finding an eye doctor, and more

Optometric Extension Program Foundation
Information about the visual process, vision development, and vision therapy

Also see www.sensoryhealth.org/treatment-directory

Professional: Doctor of Optometry (OD), called a Developmental (or Behavioral) Optometrist

Vision therapy (VT) is a set of procedures to correct or enhance the skills necessary for proper vision. A developmental vision exam includes an evaluation of eye health, as well as eyesight, and how vision, touch, hearing, movement, and other senses work together. After the evaluation, the optometrist may recommend VT, which could include prescription lenses, prisms, sensory-motor activities, and even computer-based programs to enhance eye-motor control, visual discrimination, and eye-hand coordination. Much more than just “eye exercises,” VT helps the child integrate visual information with other sensory input. This treatment often helps a child’s eyes and body function in sync and can prevent and remediate learning-related visual problems.


International Chiropractic Pediatric Association


Professional: Chiropractor, also known as a doctor of chiropractic or a chiropractic physician, using the initials DC

Chiropractic is the philosophy, art, and science of detecting and correcting subluxation in the human body. Subluxation is a partial dislocation or abnormal movement of a bone in a joint. Chiropractic helps people with SPD by specifically addressing the structure and function of the nerves, muscles and joints controlling posture and movement that influence our ability to interact with our environment.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST)

Upledger Institute International

The Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America

Professional: Practitioners having a license in occupational therapy, physical therapy or massage therapy, or medical background as an Osteopath, Chiropractor, MD, or other Registered Craniosacral Practitioner (RCST)

CranioSacral Therapy, pioneered by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger, is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system -- comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, as well as many other systems of the body, such as the digestive, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and circulatory.

Hippotherapy (therapy with a horse)

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International

Professional: Certified Instructor

Hippotherapy means “treatment with the help of the horse.” Occupational, physical and speech therapists use the horse as a modality to improve the posture, movement, neuromotor function and sensory processing of people with disabilities. The movement of the horse, with traditional therapy intervention, influences muscle tone, encourages muscle action and improves vestibular reactions, sensorimotor integration, and midline postural control.

Neuro-Developmental Therapy (NDTA)


Professional: Occupational and physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, and other clinicians

NDT is an interdisciplinary clinical practice model emphasizing individualized therapeutic handling based on movement analysis for habilitation and rehabilitation of individuals with neurological pathophysiology. The therapist uses a problem-solving approach to assess activity and participation, thereby prioritizing relevant integrities and impairments as a basis for establishing achievable outcomes with clients and caregivers. In-depth knowledge of the human movement system, including the understanding of typical and atypical development, and expertise in analyzing postural control, movement, activity, and participation throughout the lifespan, form the basis for examination, evaluation, and intervention. Therapeutic handling, used during evaluation and intervention, consists of a dynamic reciprocal interaction between the client and therapist for activating optimal sensorimotor processing, task performance, and skill acquisition to enable participation in meaningful activities.

Nutritional Treatment for Eating/Feeding Problems

SOS Approach to Feeding
The Sequential-Oral-Sensory Approach to addressing feeding difficulties

Kelly Dorfman, M.S., L.D.N.
Clinical nutritionist, speaker, and award-winning author offering solutions about diet, foods that cause irritability, and lack of dietary nutrients, and on using nutrition therapeutically

Maria Rickert Hong
Recovering children's health with dietary changes and therapies using a biomedical approach


The DIR® and DIRFloortime® Training Program
Also see www.sensoryhealth.org/treatment-directory

Professional: Psychotherapist, Clinical Psychologist, Licensed Clinical Social worker, or Psychiatrist

Psychotherapy is sometimes appropriate, particularly if the individual has behavior or self-image problems or is depressed. (Psychotherapy deals with the effects of SPD but not the underlying causes.) Psychotherapies include behavioral therapy, to help the person deal with problematical symptoms and behaviors; family therapy, to help the child, parents and siblings become a healthier unit; and play therapy, to promote the child’s social-emotional development.

Qigong Sensory Treatment (QST)

Practitioner:  Parents or professionals

Touch-based massage treatment for parents or professionals to perform on children, for 15 minutes each day for up to two years, to normalize sensory issues and reduce or eliminate symptoms of autism.  Results are apparent after as few as 30 days of treatment. QST is unique among autism treatments because it grants children access to normal development, helps them feel comfortable and connected to others, and improves lifetime outcomes.

Community-Based Treatments and Activities

American Art Therapy Association (AATA)

Art therapy to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions and foster self-esteem, emotional resilience, and social skills

American Hippotherapy Association (AHA, Inc.)

How OTs, PTs, and SLPs use equine movement (horseback riding) as a therapy

American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)

About music therapy's effects on physical health, movement, emotions, communication, and social participation

American Taekwondo Association (ATA Martial Arts)

Martial arts, including Karate for Kids program and Tae Kwon Do, furthering positive mental attitude, high goal-setting, perseverance, self-control, and confidence