Sensory Integration theory seeks to explain problems in learning and behaviour that cannot be attributed to central nervous system damage or abnormalities. Learning difficulties stem from dysfunctions in central processing and integration of sensory inputs and encompasses impairments to detecting, modulating, interpreting, or responding to sensory stimuli. Thus, the term ‘learning difficulty’ refers to learning impairment caused by a neurological dysfunction and can also be referred to more specifically as a sensory processing disorder (SPD) or a sensory integration disorder (SID).
The concept that a learning difficulty derives from a neurological dysfunction or disability has a medical basis rather than an educational or psychological basis. It is estimated that up to 15% of children in the USA have enough trouble with sensory integration to cause them to be slow learners. This figure is probably also correct for Canada, the UK and Australia but could possibly be higher in countries where early developmental play is hindered by weather or culture.
Where a child is identified as having a learning difficulty and developing below the level of typical development, it is possible to intervene and accelerate the development process. Again, by stimulating the development of identified dysfunctions, it is possible to accelerate development and rectify dysfunctions causing learning difficulties.