In this preliminary study Drobnyk et al (2019) suggest that Ayres’ Sensory Integration may be a playful and fun way to help improve hand coordination in children with Rett Syndrome. Difficulty with hand movements — specifically from thinking about what to do and then doing it, is a difficulty often seen in children with Rett Syndrome. The authors considered it important to find and research possible therapeutic interventions to address this difficulty.

“The loss of functional hand skills is a primary characteristic of Rett syndrome. Stereotypies, dyspraxia, and other sensory processing issues severely limit the individual’s ability to reach toward and sustain grasp on objects. This loss of functional reach and grasp severely limits their ability to participate in self-help, play, and school-related activities.” 

The authors wondered if Ayres’ Sensory Integration Therapy might be such a therapy.  

“There are no studies that specifically examine the effects of ASI therapy on motor planning/praxis, functional reaching, or hand use of individuals with RTT. There is preliminary evidence that this type of therapy may benefit children with sensory processing issues who have other diagnoses…

…We proposed that Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) treatment would improve sensory processing and motor planning, which would lay the sensory-motor groundwork for improving grasp of objects, an important first step in developing functional hand use.””

The research study findings were small, 

“This study provides preliminary data suggesting that ASI may have small positive effects on the rate of grasping in children with RTT and warrants further study before recommending it in routine practice,” the researchers stated.

However, interestingly they also found the following, and hope to publish these findings also.

“All our study participants exhibited neurological signs involving altered muscle tone, weakness, and balance that contributed to deficits in postural control, mobility, and hand function. Although we observed steady improvements in postural stability/control, balance, and mobility in all participants from the beginning of the intervention period to the end of the post-intervention period, tracking these outcomes was not an aim of this study. We did, however, document these promising observations and we will examine them in a future qualitative study.”