Sensory integration therapy teaches the child to use many connections in the brain simultaneously. This is achieved by presenting the child with a combination of sensory stimuli (tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, gustatory, visual, and olfactory) that is appropriate to the child's deficit. It emphasizes the connections in the brain stem, where many types of sensations come together.
This stimulation is one of the things that normal play provides the average child. Children must learn to receive the proper information from the senses and process the information received for further use.
Children with sensory integrative dysfunction rarely give themselves the proper stimulation on their own. Therefore, therapy provides an opportunity for the child to participate in guided play that will help the brain work better. Therapists utilize a play format to engage the child so that the therapy will be maximally effective. It takes a tremendous amount of skill to make therapy look casual, but both the child and the therapist are actually working very hard. All the activities are purposeful and directed toward a goal. Therapy is not designed to learn specific skills, but to learn how to organize the brain so that it will work better. This organization can be used by the child to learn specific skills. The ultimate goal of sensory integration therapy is self-development and/or self-organization.