Question: Are sensory integration techniques such as brushing a child's arms or putting weights on a child's wrist alternative therapies?
Answer: There's no denying that we all have sensory needs. We may tap our fingers, rock our legs, chew our pens, and so on. It's also true that children with autism often seem to have some sensory deregulation. They may spend a great deal of time engaging in activities that appear to meet sensory needs -- such as jumping, rocking, humming, flapping their arms, and things like that. Some children with autism also have very poor body awareness and coordination.
Taking all these things together it's only natural to think that an intervention that will address these sensory needs may be beneficial. The idea behind sensory integration therapy is that by regulating the child's sensory input, they would be more capable of learning. Again the problem is that when sensory integration techniques are carefully looked at in research studies, there's no evidence to support their benefit.
The bottom line is that if you choose to use any sensory integration techniques, it's important that they do not take the place of evidence-based interventions.