LD Volume 3: A 50 Year-Old Gem


One thing leads to another …

… you may recall that last week I finished the Part 4 Finale of Why Can’t EYE Learn, and cited the presentation by Ricardo C. Carrasco, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, entitled: “Visuopraxis: How It Fits within Sensory Integration Theory and Human Occupation” based on the work of occupational therapist A. Jean Aryes, Ph.D.  One of the references in Dr. Carrasco’s handout was to a chapter by Aryes in the book you see pictured above, published in 1968.  I’ve had Volumes 1 and 2 of that series in my library for many years, but didn’t realize there was a Volume 3 – which I promptly ordered on eBay and received yesterday.  It was this morning’s read in Starbucks and wow, what a treat from Jean Aires, the Godmother of Sensory Integration!


Here are four major principles that Dr. Ayres overviewed in her chapter 50 years ago:

  1. Sensory Overload – Citing the experiments of Held and Hein in the early 1960s on  visual perception, Ayres notes: “These experiments – both behavioral and neurophysiological – are consistent with the postulate that normal development of visual perception requires intersensory integration from other sources, especially somatosensory and vestibular.  The therapeutic implications reach well beyond the development of visual perception.   Intersensory integration is a highly important characteristic of the CNS  …  The possibility of overloading rather than organizing the CNS must not be overlooked.  A general guiding rule is to watch the behavior of the child following massive sensory input.  If he appears to be disorganized, the multi sensory approach is probably causing more disruption than integration.
  2. Primitive Reflexes – Attributing the therapeutic principles of inhibiting primitive postural reflexes to Bobath & Bobath in the mid 1950s, and classifying it as one of the models of neural integration, Ayres writes:  “As the child matures, the reflexes normally become inhibited, i.e. the associated motor action is not necessarily elicited by a given sensory input.  They become integrated into the total sensorimotor system.  Failure to become integrated suggests inadequate inhibition associated with maturational deficit.  Of particular concern – perhaps because they are the best understood – are the phylogentically old postural reflexes integrated at the brain stem level, particularly the tonic neck and labyrinthine reflexes.
  3. Interrelatedness of Vision and Motor – I’ll weave together several sentences contained in the chapter to give this point more narrative flow: “Since almost all activity automatically involves the use of vision and can be structured to involve careful visual direction, gross motor activity is one of the methods best adapted to associate visual perception with vestibular and somatosensory input.  Clinical experience suggests that many children with perceptual-motor dysfunction are in particular need of discharge from somatosensory receptors.  This type of sensory flow is best obtained through prolonged contraction of the antigravity of postural muscles (she proceeds to cite activities such as propelling oneself on a scooter as well as balancing to address antigravity postural muscles).
  4. Balance Between Inhibition and Arousal – “A more common observation among children with learning disability is the hyperactive and distractible child who appears to be lacking in sufficient inhibition in the afferent flow and suffers from too much cortical arousal which interferes both directly and indirectly with perception and learning.”  As an aside, this is one reason why we do arousal procedures such as clapping hands, bouncing a ball, jumping on a trampoline, or Hart Chart Saccades to the beat of a metronome — not on every beat, but on every other beat or every third beat.  What occurs on the “off beats” is inhibition.

Ayres finishes with the following caution:  “The emphasis placed on sensorimotor function as a foundation for the development of perception and learning needs to be kept in proper focus … If sensorimotor integration provided the sole basis for further intellectual development, birds would enjoy a more favorable reputation of their brains.” 



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