Sensory Integration Therapy: What Parents Need To Know

At Reaching Milestones with BCS, our practice relies solely upon empirically validated methods that have taken years to research, develop, and put into use with our clients.  Before we decide to use any methodology, we conduct extensive reviews of what researchers have discovered about it and whether or not it is a valid practice.

As a parent or guardian of a child with autism, the decision choosing the treatment option that will best benefit your child can be a challenging one.  You may rely on the advice of friends or family or turn to the Internet to seek information about your options.  During the course of your search for the best treatment option, you may discover a form of therapy known as Sensory integration therapy (SIT).  We would like to share with you what the latest research has to say about SIT, so that you can make a more informed decision about your child’s treatment.

Lang et al. (2012) conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed, scientifically valid research articles on the topic of SIT.  Lang et al. (2012) described SIT in the following way:

Implementation of SIT typically involves some combination of the child wearing a weighted

vest, being rubbed or brushed with various instruments, riding a scooter board, swinging,

sitting on a bouncy ball, being squeezed between exercise pads or pillows, and other similar

activities” (p. 1005).

Researchers (Lang et al., 2012) found that out of 53 published articles on various aspects of SIT, only 25 could be included in the review, with the remaining articles excluded due to questionable bases for research, flawed execution of the experiments, or poor data collection. These researchers really did their homework!  Of those remaining 25 studies, only 3 suggested that SIT was an effective form of therapy, 8 found non-conclusive results, and 14 found no benefit (Lang et al., 2012).  Ultimately, the research (Lang et al., 2012) concluded that SIT is not currently supported by the evidence and that practitioners who intend to serve children with autism should not rely upon SIT as a form of treatment.  Furthermore, Lang et al. (2012) go on to suggest that, due to its scientific uncertainty, SIT should only be used in highly controlled research settings. If you have any questions about SIT or other options you have discovered in your search for effective autism therapies, feel free to contact your behavior analyst for more information on those topics or other research-based methods that may be effective in your child’s behavior program.


Lang, R., O’Reilly, M., Healy, O., Rispoli, M., Lydon, H., Streusand, W., Davis, T., Kang, S.,

Sigafoos, J., Lancioni, G., Didden, R., & Giesbers, S. (2012). Sensory integration therapy for

autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review.  Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6,