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Motor-Sensory Interventions for Autism

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

Introduction

"Motor interventions" mean any treatments and therapies which use, or which aim to improve, motor functioning (control, co-ordination and movement of the whole body or parts of the body).

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

Motor-sensory interventions can come in a number of forms, such as combined multi-component therapies (like occupational therapy), specific sensory interventions (like aromatherapy), physical activities (like running), and manipulative-body-based interventions (like acupuncture). 

Some motor-sensory interventions target specific functions such as hearing (like auditory integration training), sight (like vision therapy), smell and taste (like aromatherapy). Other interventions (like sensory integrative therapy) may be designed to improve a range of motor and sensory functions.

Evidence

The evidence for motor-sensory interventions is mixed. Auditory integration training does not provide any benefits for autistic people. Determining the benefits of any other motor-sensory interventions for autistic people is not currently possible. We must wait for further research of sufficiently high quality to be completed.

Risks and Safety

Some risks are involved in some forms of motor-sensory intervention. For example, any intervention involving movement carries some risk of physical injury, however minor. Risks also come from using specialist equipment (such as some of the machines used in auditory integration training) or specialist materials (such as weighted vests and blankets).


Specific Types of Motor-Sensory Interventions

We have categorised Motor-Sensory Interventions as follows (although there are many other ways in which they can be categorised and many individual interventions will fall under more than one of the following categories).


Related Pages

Related Glossaries


Quick link:
http://www.researchautism.net/motor-sensory-interventions
Updated
26 Feb 2019