Children with autism can benefit from a type of therapy that helps them become more comfortable with the sounds, sights and sensations of their daily surroundings, a small new study suggests.
The therapy is called sensory integration. It uses play to help these kids feel more at ease with everything from water hitting the skin in the shower to the sounds of household appliances.
For children with autism, those types of stimulation can be overwhelming, limiting them from going out in the world or even mastering basic tasks like eating and getting dressed.
“If you ask parents of children with autism what they want for their kids, they’ll say they want them to be happy, to have friends, to be able to participate in everyday activities,” said study author Roseann Schaaf.
Sensory integration is aimed at helping families move toward those goals, said Schaaf, an occupational therapist at Thomas Jefferson University’s School of Health Professions, in Philadelphia.
It is not a new therapy, but it is somewhat controversial — partly because until now it has not been rigorously studied, according to Schaaf.