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Research Updates: DCD and Sensory Integration

So often people ask about DCD and sensory integration, and often the reply given is a quote from Bundy Lane

A recent study concluded that

“Our findings indicate that sensory processing abnormalities may contribute to the pathophysiology of DCD, suggesting the importance of assessing sensory processing functions in children with DCD.”

MIkami et al, 2020

This useful article from Pathways is often also referred to;

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Evidence for Practice: Sensory-to-Cognitive Systems Integration Is Associated With Clinical Severity in Autism Spectrum Disorder

This research may support the patterns we see in research and practice when testing children and teens with Autism with the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test.

Martínez, K. et al. (2020). Sensory-to-Cognitive Systems Integration Is Associated With Clinical Severity in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry59(3), 422–433.


Impaired multisensory integration in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may arise from functional dysconnectivity among brain systems. Our study examines the functional connectivity integration between primary modal sensory regions and heteromodal processing cortex in ASD, and whether abnormalities in network integration relate to clinical severity.


We studied a sample of 55 high-functioning ASD and 64 healthy control (HC) male children and adolescents (total n = 119, age range 7−18 years). Stepwise functional connectivity analysis (SFC) was applied to resting state functional magnetic resonance images (rsfMRI) to characterize the connectivity paths that link primary sensory cortices to higher-order brain cognitive functional circuits and to relate alterations in functional connectivity integration with three clinical scales: Social Communication Questionnaire, Social Responsiveness Scale, and Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales.


HC displayed typical functional connectivity transitions from primary sensory systems to association areas, but the ASD group showed altered patterns of multimodal sensory integration to heteromodal systems. Specifically, compared to the HC group, the ASD group showed the following: (1) hyperconnectivity in the visual cortex at initial link step distances; (2) hyperconnectivity between sensory unimodal regions and regions of the default mode network; and (3) hypoconnectivity between sensory unimodal regions and areas of the fronto-parietal and attentional networks. These patterns of hyper- and hypoconnectivity were associated with increased clinical severity in ASD.


Networkwise reorganization in high-functioning ASD individuals affects strategic regions of unimodal-to-heteromodal cortical integration predicting clinical severity. In addition, SFC analysis appears to be a promising approach for studying the neural pathophysiology of multisensory integration deficits in ASD.

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Practice Update: Scientific evidence of sensory integration as an approach to occupational therapy in autism.

Abelenda AJ, Rodríguez Armendariz E. [Scientific evidence of sensory integration as an approach to occupational therapy in autism]. Medicina. 2020 ;80 Suppl 2:41-46.

This article briefly presents the theoretical and practical background of Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) and its application in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Historical criticisms on the evidence of ASI as a therapeutic intervention are reviewed and contemporary evidence is presented.

According to standards established by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), an international organization that develops criteria for categorizing evidence-based practices, ASI is an evidence-based practice.

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Practice Update: Practitioner Review: Effective management of functional difficulties associated with sensory symptoms in children and adolescents

A great summary by Alison Lane, a practitioners review, great for quoting in reports and concludes by focusing practitioners on the need for research about what intervention works and for whom.



Sensory symptoms are defined as atypical behavioral responses to daily sensory stimuli that impact on the performance of everyday routines. Sensory symptoms have been observed in young people with and without developmental concerns. There is uncertainty, however, regarding the best way to identify and manage sensory symptoms. The aim of this paper is  to provide a review of current best evidence regarding measurement of and interventions for sensory symptoms.


A narrative review methodology is adopted to address the aims of this paper. First, sensory symptoms are defined, and then, an overview of the evidence for the relationship between sensory symptoms and childhood function is provided. Second, commonly used sensory assessment tools are summarized and evaluated. Finally, an overview and critique of the evidence for sensory and nonsensory‐based interventions addressing sensory symptoms are given.


The terminology used to describe sensory symptoms varies by discipline, and several conceptual taxonomies including sensory subtypes have been proposed. There is ample evidence to support the association of sensory symptoms with childhood function including social engagement, repetitive behaviors, anxiety, and participation in self‐care routines. Measurement of sensory symptoms is dominated by proxy‐report instruments, and few single instruments assess the entire domain of sensory symptomatology. The evidence for interventions for sensory symptoms is emerging but still limited by low quantity and methodological concerns.


Effective management of sensory symptoms may mitigate the burden of neurodevelopmental disability and mental illness in young people. Identification of sensory symptoms should be conducted by a skilled practitioner utilizing multiple measurement methods. Intervention protocols for sensory symptoms should be informed by current best evidence which is strongest for Ayres Sensory Integration®, Qigong massage, the Alert Program®, and Social Stories. To make significant progress in this field, however, new intervention studies must address the question of ‘what intervention works for whom?’.

Read more here:


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COVID-19 Update: Virtual Live M3 and M6

ASI Wise will be offering the Virtual Classroom model for M3 and M6 during COVID-19.

103520326_3321619061223637_2781506389476094081_nOur ASI Wise Lead Lecturers met up with CLASI Founders, Dr Susanne Smith Roley and Dr Zoe Mailloux last week to finalise plans for the delivery of M3 and M6 to UK and Irish therapists in 2020. We are excited to be able to offer both M3 the new M6 in a new online format. The modules will be taught in this way in countries across the globe until travel restrictions and social distancing ease.

We will be learning from CLASI lecturers, Dr Zoe Mailloux and Prof Roseann Schaaf who have been testing a new teaching format. CLASI have liaised with ICEASI to ensure the programme can continue during and post COVID and remain in line with the ICEASI standards of live, interactive, real-time tutoring and demonstration.

Join us live for virtual learning with discussions in real-time, practical exercises and break-out rooms with in-person tutoring. 

Ayres' Sensory Integration Module 6M6
Dr Susanne Smith Roley and Kath Smith demonstrate intervention principles during CLASI CASI Module 6.

Expert therapists from across the globe will be sharing intervention class studies on M6. Dr Susanne Smith Roley will be sharing the latest research and evidence, building on your learning about Fidelity in M5. 

For therapists working with teens, adults and older adults, we will be exploring the application of ASI with adult clinical populations including how to adapt assessment methods, assessment tools specific to adult clinical populations, the importance of praxis to recovery and engagement in the therapy process.

Break out spaces and post-module tutoring will allow those working secure and acute high-risk clinical settings to explore and consider how to provide intervention in these restricted environments.

Dates and final information will be emailed to all participants booked on the postponed ASI Wise M3 and M6 modules, as well as other modules scheduled for later in 2020.