What is Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT)?

A. Jean Ayers, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, describes "Sensory Integration" as the organization of sensation for use. Our senses give us information about the physical conditions of our body and the environment around us. Sensations flow into the brain like a stream flowing into a lake. Countless bits of sensory information enter our brain at every moment, not only from our eyes and ears, but also from every place in our bodies. We have a special sense that detects the pull of gravity and the movements of our body in relation to the earth.

The brain must organize all of these sensations if a person is to move, learn and behave normally. The brain locates, sorts, and orders sensations - somewhat as a traffic police officer directs moving cars. When sensations flow in a well-organized or integrated manner, the brain can use those sensations to form perceptions, behaviors and learning. When the flow of sensations is disorganized, life can be like a rush hour traffic jam - Ayers 1979

The Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT) helps us understand why some children have difficulty learning or behaving as we expect. The SIPT does not measure intelligence in the usual sense of the word, but it does focus on important abilities needed to get along in the world. The test does not measure language development, academic achievement or social behavior but it does assess certain aspects of sensory processing or perception that are related to those functions. It also evaluates praxis or the child's ability to cope with the tangible, physical, two and three dimensional world.

Sensory Integration is that neurological process by which sensations (from skin, eyes, joints, gravity and movement sensory receptors) are organized for use. Praxis is that ability by which we figure out how to use our hands and body in skilled tasks like playing with toys, using a pencil or fork, building a structure, straightening up a room, or engaging in many occupations. Practic ability includes knowing what to do as well as how to do it. Practic skills is one of the essential aptitudes that enable us "to do" in the world.

"Dys" means "difficult" or "disordered." Sensory Integration dysfunction may result in difficulty with visual preceptual tasks or inefficiency in the interpretation of sensations from the body. A dyspraxic child often has trouble with simply organizing his or her own body, for movement and behavior.

The Sensory Integration and Praxis Test, (SIPT) measures the sensory integration processes that underlie learning and behavior. By looking at how children organize and respond to sensory input, the SIPT helps pinpoint specific organic problems associated with learning disabilities, emotional disorders ansd minimal brain dysfunction.

SIPT measures visual, tactile, and kinesthetic perception as well as motor performance. It is composed of 17 brief or short tests. The entire battery can be given in 2 hours. Any of the individual tests can be administered seperately in about 10 minutes each. Norms are provided for each test-based on a national sample of more than 2,000 children between the ages of 4 years and 8 years, 11 months old.