Motor Sensory Interventions for Autism

Children with autism playing with a parachuteWeighted VestWoman in flotation tankHeadphonesMultisensory environment

This page provides links to information about some of the motor/sensory interventions commonly used to help people on the autism spectrum.

What are motor/sensory interventions?

Motor interventions refer to any treatments and therapies which make use of, or which aim to improve, motor functioning i.e. control, coordination and movement of the whole body or parts of the body.

Sensory interventions refer to any treatments and therapies which make use of, or which aim to improve sensitivity to, one or more of the senses.

Some interventions - such as sensory integrative therapy - may use a range of motor and sensory techniques and be designed to improve a range of motor and sensory functions.

Some health-care professionals (such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists), some parents and carers, and some people on the spectrum may deliver one or more motor-sensory interventions.

Combined-Multi Component Therapies

There are a number of interventions which use a wide range of motor and sensory techniques including

  • The low arousal approach
  • Multi-Sensory Environments, such Snoezelen
  • Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy
  • Sensory Integrative Therapy
  • Other inc. Therapy Ball Chairs
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy

Physical Activities

There are many interventions based around physical activities undertaken by the person on the autism spectrum.

Some of those activities may be very energetic (such as trampolining) while others may be less energetic (such as yoga).

Specific types of physical activities include

  • Martial arts-based activities such as tai chi
  • Mind-body interventions such as yoga
  • Sports-based activities such running or jogging
  • Creative therapies such as dance movement therapy.
  • Other interventions in which physical activity is a significant component


Manipulation interventions include a range of treatments and therapies in which someone other than the patient manipulates or moves his or her body or parts of it.

In many cases, manipulative interventions focus primarily on the structures and systems of the body, including the bones and joints, soft tissues, and circulatory and lymphatic systems.

Specific manipulative and body-based practices include

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage
  • Osteopathy
  • Patterning therapies


There are some interventions which use sound or which are designed to help with hearing problems including

  • Auditory Integration Training techniques, such as Berard Method


There are a range of interventions which use sight or which are designed to improve vision

  • Lenses such as Ambient Prism Lenses
  • Lights,  such as Lightwave Stimulation
  • Overlays, such as Coloured Overlays
  • Vision Therapy

Please see also Visual Supports

Smell and Taste

There are some interventions which use smell and taste or which are designed to help with smell and taste problems including

  • Aromatherapy


There are some interventions which  use touch or which are designed to reduce tactile defensiveness including

  • Brushing
  • Hug Machine
  • Weighted Items such as weighted vests and weighted blankets

Related Glossaries

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14 Jun 2018