Occupational Therapy and Sensory Integration Information
What is pediatric developmental and sensory integration based occupational therapy (OT)?
Pediatric Occupational Therapy is the use of a child's occupations (play, school, home) to focus on how the child is functioning and developing their environments. When there is a delay in skills, poor attention, motor impairments, or other problems, OT can help a child gain greater independence in all areas of life through therapy.
Occupational Therapists collaborate closely with parents, Speech and Language Pathologists, Physical Therapists, and Teachers in order to effectively promote independent and successful performance.
At the Center of Development (COD), OT is a developmental & sensory based intervention that enhances the individual's ability to be the most successfull they can be. Our team based treatment approach looks at the child as a whole, focusing on treatment techniques that help the brain process information correctly and/or adapting the environment to best meet their individual needs.
Occupational Therapy treatment starts with an evaluation of the child's capabilities which influence performance of tasks necessary to function in his/her environment. The evaluation will include standardized assessments as well as clinical observations to evaluate the child's specific strengths and weaknesses with respect to developmental milestones, sensory processing of vestibular (movement), proprioceptive(joint and muscle), tactile (light touch and deep touch), sensory motor skills, age appropriate developmental levels for fine motor, visual perceptual, self-care, play/leisure skills, and academic abilities such as handwriting, cutting, and classroom performance.
When therapy is recommended, it may be direct intervention weekly or consultation depending on the child's needs. Therapy sessions and consultations are individually designed to enhance the child's strengths and build on their skills, as well as develop new skills and better integration of sensory input from the environment. Therapy may include accommodations in their school environment, home environment, positioning, adaptive equipment to help make tasks easier, and functional enhancement of sensory integration, motor responses, and fine motor abilities and manipulation to accomplish the daily tasks ("occupations") of living. There are carefully delineated techniques for helping children with disorders of development or sensory integration.
Who needs therapy? Any child who is not displaying typical development in the areas of sensory processing, attention, fine motor, self help, play skills, visual perceptual, and academic skills related to these areas such as attention to task, handwriting, and/or focusing and attention in the classroom.
Please do not hesitate to call or email us and ask questions!
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies 1-877- 372-2567
What is sensory integration (SI)?
All human beings receive information from their internal and external environments through the senses: vision, hearing (auditory), touch (somatosensory or tactile), taste (gustatory), smell (olfactory), vestibular (movement), and proprioceptive (joint and muscle). We respond to these stimuli automatically. The term sensory integration refers to the process by which we receive this information, the central nervous system directs the information to the appropriate parts of the brain, and the information is "integrated" or synthesized, so that we can respond to the stimuli in an adaptive manner.
What is the purpose of a sensory integration (SI) assessment?
What is Sensory Integration Dysfunction and how can it be treated?
SID is a complex neurological disorder, manifested by difficulty detecting, modulating, discriminating or integrating sensation adaptively. SID causes children to process sensation from the environment or from their bodies in an inaccurate way, resulting in "sensory seeking" or "sensory avoiding" patterns or 'dyspraxia," a motor planning problem, or commonly a combination of these.
What does SID look like? There are different types of SID: Sensory Defensiveness, Sensory Modulation, Sensory Registration, and Sensory Integration. The OT assessment will determine which type of SID the child has.
Center of Development Pediatric Therapies 931-372-2567
SID and Sensory Seeking
These children have nervous systems that do not always process that sensory input is "coming in" to the brain. They are under-responsive to sensation. As a result, they seek out more intense or longer duration sensory experiences. They often have difficulty with sensory registration and integration which manifests as a sensory craver or seeker needing an excessive amount of sensory input to get a normal central nervous system response and brain chemical release.
Some behaviors that can be observed are:
_ Hyper-activity as they seek more and more movement input (under registering input) Unable to stay in seat, fidgety, difficulty with test taking, working alone or in quiet room, needs hands on learning techniques.
_ Unawareness of touch or pain, or touching others too often or too hard (may seem aggressive). Often touch everyone & everything. They are under registering the amount of pressure or proprioceptive input.
_ Engaging in unsafe behaviors, such as climbing too high (craving extremes), rough play, erratic swinging, running inside...
_ Enjoying sounds that are too loud, such as TV or radio volume (craving auditory input) or Nintendo or cartoons for visual.
SID and Sensory Avoiding
These children have nervous systems that feel sensation too easily or too much. They are overly responsive to sensation. As a result, they may have "fight or flight" responses to sensation, a condition called "sensory defensiveness."
Some behaviors that can be observed are:
_ Responding to being touched with aggression or withdrawal (especially light touch from others, unexpected touch, messy activities, food aversions and picky eaters, bothered by tags in clothing, only wears cotton clothes, takes off shoes, or insists on leaving them on, gets upset in crowds or busy places such as gym or cafeteria)
_ Afraid of, or becomes sick with movement and heights (avoids vestibular input such as swings, stairs, moving toys, dislikes being picked up, doesn't play on playground)
_ Very cautious and unwilling to take risks or try new things, very clingy to parents, may play in corner or away from peers...
_ Uncomfortable in loud or busy environments such as sports events, malls, stores, cafeteria, gym, and in large open rooms
_ Very picky eater and/or overly sensitive to food smells
_ May be visual or auditory defensiveness as well with aversions to bright lights, flourescent lighting, or background noises as brain is unable to filter out background stimuli
_ Dislikes grooming, hair cuts, sometimes baths, nail cutting, etc.
_ Complains about clothing or bedding, may be itchy & red
_ Gets motion sick easily
_ Avoids crawling, weight bearing, or dislikes being on tummy
SID and Dyspraxia
These children are often clumsy and awkward in their movements. They have particular problems with new motor skills and activities. They display difficulties with the registration and integration of sensory input, but may also fall under defensiveness and modulation disorders.
Some behaviors that can be observed are:
_ Very poor fine motor skills such as handwriting, cutting, motor planning skills
_ Very poor gross motor skills such as kicking, catching, throwing ball, sports are difficult
_ Difficulty imitating movements such as "Simon Says"
_ Trouble with balance, sequences of movements and bilateral coordination
Children with SID often display very specific sensory difficulties as follows and Occupational Therapy can help:
Characteristics of Tactile Dysfunction
Hypersensitivity: heightened response to touch resulting in a flight or fright.
Hyposensitivity: under responsive to touch
For stimulation (either calming or alerting) they may:
Characteristics of Vestibular Dysfunction
Muscle tone is affected by vestibular input:
Poor Bilateral Coordination and Visual perceptual skills:
Child with Proprioceptive (muscle and joint receptors) Dysfunction:
Poor Visual Spatial and Perceptual Skills:
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