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J Learn Disabil. 1994 Jun-Jul;27(6):338-50.

A critique of the application of sensory integration therapy to children with learning disabilities.

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Department of Psychology and Human Development, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203.


Sensory integration (SI) therapy is a controversial--though popular--treatment for the remediation of motor and academic problems. It has been applied primarily to children with learning disabilities, under the assumption that such children (or at least a subgroup of them) have problems in sensory integration to which some or all of their learning difficulties can be ascribed. The present article critically examines the related issues of whether children with learning disabilities differentially exhibit concomitant problems in sensory integration, and whether such children are helped in any way by means specific to SI therapy. An overview of theoretical contentions and empirical findings pertaining to the first issue is presented, followed by a detailed review of recent studies in the SI therapy research literature, in an effort to resolve the second issue. Results of this critique raise serious doubts as to the validity or utility of SI therapy as an appropriate, indicated treatment for the clinical population in question--and, by extension, for any other groups diagnosed as having "sensory integrative dysfunction." It is concluded that the current fund of research findings may well be sufficient to declare SI therapy not merely an unproven, but a demonstrably ineffective, primary or adjunctive remedial treatment for learning disabilities and other disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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