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									                                        Sensory integration: A review of
                                        the current state of the evidence
Nancy Pollock

Sensory integration, sensory integrative dysfunction,           is defined as “the organiza-
sensory processing disorder, sensory modulation, sen-           tion of sensory informa-
sory diets; all somewhat confusing terms for many occu-         tion for use” (p.1). It is a
pational therapists, other health professionals, and edu-       neurological process that
cators. Imagine how most families must feel! In the 45          enables us to make sense
years since Jean Ayres presented her Eleanor Clark Slagle       of our world by receiving,
Lecture (Ayres, 1963) introducing her concept of sensory        registering, modulating, or-
integration, the field of sensory integration research          ganizing, and interpreting
and practice has seen tremendous growth and contin-             information that comes to
ues to engender strong reactions within and outside             our brains from our senses.
the field of occupational therapy. The controversy has          Ayres (1972) hypothesized
                                                                                                   About the author –
recently moved from the professional literature to the          that some children have            nancy Pollock, MSc, OT
lay press. Time Magazine (December 10, 2007) featured           an impairment in sensory           Reg (Ont) is an Associate
an article entitled “Is this Disorder for Real?” reporting on   integration which manifests Clinical Professor in the
the controversy surrounding the move to have sensory            in difficulties observed in        School of Rehabilitation
                                                                                                   Science and an Investiga-
processing disorder included in the next revision of the        purposeful behaviours. This
                                                                                                   tor at the CanChild Centre
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.                              dysfunction in sensory in-         for Childhood Disability
     Given the controversial nature of sensory integra-         tegration may explain why          Research at McMaster
tion, it is important to ensure that practitioners are          some children have trouble         University in Hamilton,
up to date on the current state of the literature and           learning new skills, organiz-      Ontario.
the evidence. Part of the mandate of the CanChild               ing themselves, regulating
Centre for Childhood Disability Research located at Mc-         their attention, participating in school or play ac-
Master University in Hamilton, Ontario, is to provide           tivities, and engaging in positive social experiences.
synthesized reviews to assist in translating knowledge          Ayres, and many who have followed her, have worked
from research to practice. Available on our website             to establish the validity of this theory through clinical, these reviews are called Keeping               and basic science research.
Current and are written so that families, service pro-               Through these past decades, researchers and
viders, and researchers can access them. The Keeping            clinicians have explored many aspects of sensory
Current in Sensory Integration, last updated in 2006,           integration in a variety of populations including
remains one of the most frequently accessed titles on           typically developing children, children with learning
the website, with an average of 650 hits per month.             disabilities, autism, Aspergers, and attention deficit
As it is now time to update it, we thought it could also        hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As well, assessments of
be an important contribution to this special issue of           sensory integration have been developed and treat-
OT Now. In this article, I will review the discussions          ment strategies evaluated. Through all of this work,
and debates about terminology, identification and               different ideas and understandings about sensory
diagnosis, review the evidence for the effectiveness of         integration have evolved and authors have begun to
sensory integration interventions, and provide some             use different terms to describe their perspectives of
suggestions for clinicians and families.                        sensory integration and propose new models.
                                                                     Roley, Mailloux, Miller-Kuhanek, and Glennon (2007)
Defining sensory integration                                    describe the rationale for the recent move to trademark
Sensory integration is a theory. As with all theories,          the term Ayres Sensory Integration©. They suggest that
sensory integration has a set of assumptions underly-           the use of this term denotes the adherence to the core
ing it that propose to explain observed phenomena.              principles of Ayres original theoretical framework and
As first descr
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