OccupationalTherapy.com Phone: 866-782-9924

Why aren't learning disabilities mentioned when discussing sensory integration and sensory processing topics?

Cindy Clough, MS, OT

December 28, 2015



Learning disabilities seemed not to be mentioned with sensory integration and sensory processing. Is there a reason?


Actually, yes, there is a reason. Jean Ayres’ original 1950's, 1960's, even 1970's work was all around learning disabilities and children who were experiencing learning disabilities. The original sensory integration stuff came from that literature. As Shaw pointed out correctly, most of that literature and research has been widely discredited even within the profession because it does not meet today’s scientific methodology rigor. More of our literature has gone towards children with autism or children that we see as having exclusive sensory processing type of disorders and not so much focused on learning disabilities.

The original Jean Ayres' work looked at if we did sensory integration therapy and were able to integrate vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile functions, and treat that underlying brain stem responses, we would automatically see improvements in reading and in writing and other academic outcomes. The methodology is not really supported by today’s standards. We went in a different direction with the research more around autism and not so much around learning disabilities.

cindy clough

Cindy Clough, MS, OT

Cindy is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) in the Occupational Therapy Program. Cindy serves as the primary course instructor for the pediatric course work in the occupational therapy curriculum. Cindy has worked in birth-to-three settings, outpatient pediatric settings, and has worked in school-based special education programs. Having been inspired by her work in school districts, Cindy completed a Master’s of Science Degree in Administrative Leadership with a Pupil Services focus in 2008. In addition to her commitment to improving services for children identified as needing special education services, Cindy works with educators to advocate for equity in educational practices for all students. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the Social Foundations of Urban Education at UWM.

Related Courses

Electrical Stimulation for Recovery of Function in Neurorehabilitation
Presented by Rebecca Martin, OTR/L, OTD, CPAM, CKTP


Rebecca Martin, OTR/L, OTD, CPAM, CKTP
Course: #3840Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'The manner in which the information was delivered was easy to understand and well-organized'   Read Reviews
This course will describe the different mechanisms of action for electrical stimulation to restore function in patients with neurological dysfunction. Using case studies and best evidence, participants will learn how to design and execute interventions with electrical stimulation useful in neurorehabiliation.

Joint Hypermobility Syndromes: Assessment and Intervention
Presented by Valeri Calhoun, MS, OTR/L, CHT


Valeri Calhoun, MS, OTR/L, CHT
Course: #5376Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Speaker was easy to listen to and had good examples'   Read Reviews
This course will cover upper extremity assessment and treatment strategies for the pediatric/young adult population affected by joint hypermobility syndromes. The treatment focuses on both orthopedic strategies along with adaptive methods for these individuals.

Disability Inclusion: What Healthcare Providers Need To Know
Presented by Kathryn Sorensen, OTD, OTR/L, ADAC


Kathryn Sorensen, OTD, OTR/L, ADAC
Course: #5632Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Person WITH a disability speaking about disabilities!'   Read Reviews
As a person with a disability and an occupational therapist, I have a unique perspective of living in two worlds. In this course, I will share my personal experience and things I wish healthcare providers knew and understood about living with a disability.

Recommendations For Preventing And Managing Mechanical Low Back Pain With Occupational Therapy Clients
Presented by Lisa Juckett, MOT, OTR/L


Lisa Juckett, MOT, OTR/L
Course: #3585Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'The explanation of the anatomy involved with body mechanics principles'   Read Reviews
This course will review neuromusculoskeletal anatomy of the spinal column with a specific emphasis on the lumbar spine region. Screening, evaluation, and intervention techniques for managing low back pain will be provided as will recommendations for activity modification and injury prevention.

Foundations for School Readiness: Sensory Regulation and Yoga (Day 1)
Presented by Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L


Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L
Course: #3841Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'I loved how Britt discussed what SPD was and how it affects children in the classroom setting prior to diving into interventions'   Read Reviews
This course will provide you tips and tools to integrate sensory regulation, yoga and mindfulness into the classroom for children of all abilities.

Our site uses cookies to improve your experience. By using our site, you agree to our Privacy Policy.