At both a conscious and unconscious level, our bodies are constantly registering sensory input. Sensory information is processed and organized in the central nervous system, giving us an understanding of what is happening to our bodies. Sensory processing enables a behavioral or adaptive response. When a child experiences sensory processing dysfunction, the behavioral and adaptive responses that we see, often impact normal function. As a result, problems in learning, development, or behavior may become evident.
Our Speech & Language Pathologists, Occupational and Physical Therapists can work in conjunction, when needed, to provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment for infants and children with a Dysfunction in Sensory Integration. Our therapists are specially trained in Sensory Integration to deliver treatment in a safe play environment, which is conducive to helping the child transfer learned skills to their daily living.
Typically, a child with dysfunction in sensory integration will show more than one of these signs:
- Acts negatively to touch or getting messy
- Complains about clothing
- Pushes others away from contact
- Constantly touching others
- Overly sensitive to movement
- Anxious when feet leave the ground
- Motion sickness
- Avoids playground equipment
- Seeks excessive movement
- Difficulty sitting still
- Frequently drops items
- Disregard for safety
- Clumsy, uncoordinated
- Difficulty learning new skills
Sight And Sound
- Overly sensitive to certain sights and sounds
- Doesn't appear to notice noise
Smell And Taste
- Overly sensitive to smells or tastes
- Excessively picky eater
When to Refer:
Referral to our program is encouraged as soon as sensory processing concerns arise which may be as early as 6 months of age. Children treated before the age of 7 have the best rehabilitation potential as the pathways in the nervous system are still changing in response to sensory stimuli. Following age 7, the pathways in the nervous system have formed and treatment focus is more on compensatory strategies.
Prior to treatment, an occupational therapy evaluation is performed to determine how a child's sensory system is functioning and to identify areas of dysfunction. A treatment plan is created based on evaluation results.
Our Clinical Environment:
We are equipped with tools to help children explore and engage all of their senses in a safe and comfortable environment.
Children coming to our clinic may use:
- Suspended swings which allow for movement in all planes and in various body positions
- Ball pit
- Climbing structure and slide
- Rice/bean bins
- Messy play substances
- Oral tactile tools
- Vibration tools
- Various toys, games, and learning tools
Parent Education and Sensory Diet Planning:
Sensory input lasts for 2-8 hours depending on the type of input and the intensity. If a child is to fully experience the benefits of sensory input, carryover is necessary throughout the day, every day. It is important for caregivers to understand what activities their child should engage in beyond therapy. We encourage parents to observe sessions and implement suggestions for sensory input at home. Since the central nervous system changes frequently, sensory diet planning is an ongoing component of therapy.
Length of Treatment:
Treatment is typically recommended for a minimum of 3 months allowing time for the therapist to observe a child and engage him or her in a variety of sensory exploration and play activities. A child's system will typically begin to respond and change when given the right types of input. Caregiver education and support are ongoing in an effort to promote consistent home carryover of an established sensory diet. Progress is carefully monitored and discharge is planned as treatment goals are met.