New research is casting doubt on the merits of a popular autism treatment which relies on weighted vests, bouncy balls and other sensory stimuli.
Researchers reviewed 25 existing studies looking at sensory integration therapy and found that the method is not scientifically supported.
“Rigorous, methodologically sound studies do not indicate that it helps and, in fact, the majority of studies that were reviewed reported no benefits for children with ASD,” said Mark O’Reilly of the University of Texas at Austin who worked on the analysis, which was published in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Sensory integration therapy is intended to address the atypical responses that many with autism have to sight, sound, touch and other sensory stimuli. Therapists utilize swings, balls, brushes and other specially-designed tools to help those on the spectrum learn to cope.
The review is not the first to question the value of sensory integration therapy. Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement indicating that support is lacking for the method, but did not go so far as to advise against it.
“Parents should be informed that the amount of research regarding the effectiveness of sensory integration therapy is limited and inconclusive,” the pediatrics group said.