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Sensory-Motor Therapy & The Role of the Speech-Language Pathologist

Kimberly A. Bell, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist, SPEECH PATHways, Maryland

What is Sensory Integration (SI)?

We learn about our environment through our senses (sight, sound, smell, taste & touch). Our senses receive information from inside and outside of our bodies. Sensory integration is the term used to describe how our senses work and organize and process sensory information we receive.

What is Sensory Integration (SI)Disorder /Dysfunction?

When the body is unable to properly take in and use sensory information that is received, a person is said to have Sensory Integration Disorder/Dysfunction (DIS). A child with Sensory Integration issues will have difficulty organizing sensory information for everyday tasks.

Common Characteristics of SI Disorder/Dysfunction include, but are not limited to:

  • Unusually high or low activity levels.
  • Child appears to be in constant motion.
  • Child is easily tired/fatigued
  • Difficulty calming themselves (self-regulating).
  • Over or under responsiveness to sensory stimulation.
  • Difficulty with change or transitions (rigid & likes routine).
  • Poor motor coordination (fine motor skills such as hand skills & speech)

What is the role of the Speech-Language Pathologist & treatment for SI Disorder/Dysfunction? Speech and language problems commonly coexist with children who have SI issues. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP’s), who are trained to work with children with SI issues, play a crucial role in treatment along with the SI Certified Occupational Therapist. They integrate sensory-motor based activities to stimulate language production. Fun sensory-motor based activities such as swinging, spinning, jumping, blowing (whistles, horns, bubbles) and bouncing on therapeutic balls can be used to stimulate speech/language production.

Article submitted by: Kimberly A. Bell, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of SPEECH PATHways. For more information, readers can contact her at 410-374-0555 or
on ISER at:

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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