What is sensory integration therapy?

Sensory integration therapy (SIT) is a technique used to treat sensory processing symptoms commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is not a cure, but a way to help the individual (usually a child) become desensitized to improper functioning in the three sensory processing systems:

Tactile: the way something feels (like how certain foods feel strange when they touch your tongue compared to others)

Vestibular: balance based on structures of the inner ear (like how you can feel dizzy when you get water in your ears)

Proprioceptive: ability to gauge your body position in a given space; also fine motor skills (like how you can “feel” when someone is close to you or your ability to tie your shoes)

Therapists believe that self-stimulating behavior and avoidance behaviors are attempts to adapt to these systems not functioning properly. Avoiding foods with small pieces like rice (tactile), excessive spinning (vestibular), difficulty using or holding a pencil or spoon (proprioceptive). SIT therapists use games and enjoyable activities to slowly introduce stimuli and help guide the child through integrating sensory items in a way that is not overwhelming.

Is sensory integration therapy better than ABA?

What works for you and your child or family is really a personal choice. Many families have had positive experiences with ABA therapy describing the experience as more like the real world which can be overwhelming at times. Where others feel that the techniques are too overwhelming and the negatives outweigh the positives. These families may prefer SIT techniques. It’s really a personal choice.



Seth the disco teacher – a moment in Seth’s life

Support jargon: What is ABA?

Mom. Dad. You’re messing up… and it’s OK. Disabilities parenting perfection. And imperfection.


Adolescent bipolar disorder. When is it typically diagnosed?

Treatment jargon: what is behavior therapy?

IEP jargon. What are developmental milestones?

Disabilities jargon: Sensory processing disorder

Mental health jargon: what is ODD oppositional defiant disorder

SETH TALK – my family and my autistic son

Disabilities jargon: What is stimming behavior?

Autism jargon: what is SIB or SIBs?

Disability Support: Mastering the art of sharing power.

Is selective mutism a real thing?

Pathfinders for Autism, letter from self-advocate Jake Edwards



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External Resources

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance