Sensory Integration Therapy
The Neurology of Sensory
Sensory Processing Disorders Making the Connection: The Brain and Sensory Input
Since the "Era of the Brain" neuroscientists and health care professionals alike have been discovering new information that has opened new doors into the treatment of sensory processing disorders. It is important to understand the connection between basic neural science and sensory processing in order to comprehend the great need for "ordered," not disordered sensory processing for the brain to function properly and learn.
Individuals with severe sensory processing problems usually function at a brain stem level in which primitive instincts for survival and protection are met only, with limited higher cortical learning taking place (see on the home page Feeding the Brain Pyramid).
Sensory processing problems may come from not having "physical sense of self" (touch and proprioception) which leads to a compromised body system that is "in pieces" so that the brain and body is working on keeping self together (brain stem: survival and protection) and is NOT ready for higher cortical functioning until basic subcortical needs are met.
Treatment that begins with primitive reflex integration and sensory integration theory are vital to helping these children overcome their issues.
At Center of Development we use a get "READY BRAIN" approach to all our therapy sessions. We start sessions with the 3 power sensations, individualized for each child's neurological needs, so that the last half of the session their brain and body is "READY" to learn!
1. Vestibular Sensations: Sets the arousal level to an optimum level to get a calming or arousing response. Most powerful and longest lasting sensation (typically 4-8 hours after 15 minutes on a swing hung from a single point in a linear direction). Vestibular input is a very strong brain stem sensation which is best if done first and followed by proprioception before a cortical task so that the brain stem can take care of and focus on ANS functioning and the cortex can register more information.
2. Proprioception: 9x's rule: For individuals with hypotonia it takes 9 times the effort to get enough tone and to a ready state to even begin to corticalize the information being taken in by muscles and joint receptors. 1 ½ to 2 hour latent affect keeps effects like the sensations are still present.
When serotonin decreases and norepinephrine increases you will see aggression which often results in the individual SEEKING proprioceptive and deep touch input (holding down, firm grip, etc.) which enhances serotonin levels back to a calming level. Thus, this can cause a terrible cycle of acting out, getting deep touch through punishment, then they get their "fix"-- a release of serotonin to decrease aggression.
Our goal is to establish a healthy SENSORY DIET plan for that child, so that they can get the neuro-transmitters released naturally throughout their day, which will decrease negative seeking behaviors and increase positive skills!
3. Tactile: Deep touch is always better than light touch to result in a calming and organizing input, instead of protective or avoidance response.
Some neurological points to remember:
We all use sensory calming techniques in our world, many people can be observed "self regulating" or calming themselves in a classroom or work setting such as these behaviors:
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