Is it possible to do the brushing technique on yourself or does it have to be done by someone else? I have sensory issues, especially to light touch. I think I could benefit from the technique, but my resources to therapists and such are limited. I was wondering if I could just do the brushing to myself.
Sensory integration therapy has been used with individuals with autism spectrum disorders since the 1970s. In this treatment, sensory stimulation (e.g., brushing, joint compression, swinging, etc.) is provided, with the thought that this will improve cognitive functioning and decrease problem behaviors. Personally, I find the arguments for using this therapy a bit weak. Some have described the logic behind using this treatment as a circular (e.g., "Why do individuals with autism have problem behavior, such as engaging in repetitive behaviors? Because they have sensory processing issues. How do we know they have sensory processing issues? Because they engage in problem behavior).
Any time I think about whether a treatment may be effective or not, the first thing I always ask is, "Is their good scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of this technique". Testimonials and anecdotal reports do not constitute good scientific evidence. Asking people to fill out a rating scale to judge the effectiveness of a treatment is not good scientific evidence. Evaluating the effectiveness of one intervention while a second intervention is also in place is not good scientific evidence. To me, scientific evidence involves doing a controlled experiment using generally accepted scientific methodology, and then submitting that experiment to scrutiny by expert reviewers. If you use these criteria as scientific evidence, to the best of my knowledge, there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of sensory integration in improving cognitive functioning or reducing problem behavior.
Many of the activities used during sensory integration therapy can be highly enjoyable. Personally, I enjoy the sensation of rocking in a rocking chair. At night, if I was watching television before I went to bed, I would probably really enjoy rocking in a chair while watching TV. However, would the experience of rocking on a Sunday evening cause me to attend better during meetings at work the next week? I doubt it. But, for the period of time I was rocking, I was really enjoying it! Just remember that engaging in a preferred activity does not necessarily mean that it will lead to long-term improvements in behavior. If you like the sensation that brushing provides, you can certainly do this yourself.
I don't know all the sensory issues that you have, but many of us dislike certain sensations. When I was young, on the 4th of July, my family always attended a big fireworks display, and the seating area was in situated where the noise of the fireworks was very loud. I hated the loudest "booms"; I used to sit with my fingers in my ears, to make the noise more tolerable to me. Would brushing, or swinging, have increased my tolerance to that noise that I found so difficult to tolerate? Absolutely not. Now, as an adult, when I take my family to a similar display, we choose to sit far enough away where we can see everything, but the noise is tolerable to me. There are plenty of strategies that can be used when people have difficulty tolerating certain sensations.
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