What is Pediatric Occupational Therapy?
A child’s primary “occupation” is play. We, as occupational therapists use play to develop the underlying skills needed throughout different stages of a child’s life from infancy to adolescence. Children may also need occupational therapy to help them with enhancement of school performance. Therapeutic treatment is customized to the need(s) of each child and specifically addresses the following areas:
- Feeding Skill
- Self-Feeding Skills
- Oral Motor Skills
- Visual Motor Skills
- Fine Motor Skills
- Visual Perceptual Skills
- Motor Planning and Praxis
- Sensory Processing and Integration
- Introception Development
- Primitive Reflex Integration
- ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living)
- Self-Care and Hygiene Skills
- Play Skills
- Social Skills
- School Readiness Abilities
- Organizational Skills
- Posture and Core Strengthening Skills
- Bilateral Integration Skills
- Balance Skills
What is Sensory Integration?
Our senses continuously provide us the information that we need to function within the world. The senses take in and process information from stimuli both outside and inside of our bodies. Sensory integration is the neurological process of organizing the information we get from our bodies and from the world around us for use in daily life. Sensory integration is often described as our foundation and is necessary for later, more complex learning and behavior. For most children, sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities, through exposure to a variety of stimuli within naturally-occurring day-to-day events. The organization of behavior, learning and performance is a natural outcome of the process, as is the ability to adapt to incoming sensations. For some children however, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When the process does not happen in an efficient manner, various problems in learning, development, or behavior may become evident to families and professionals.
Sensory integration dysfunction describes a problem or inefficiency in processing sensations, which leads to difficulties in daily life activities. Sensory integration dysfunction is a complex neurological disorder, marked by difficulty detecting, modulating, discriminating or integrating sensation adaptively. This results in a child’s inability to process sensation from the environment or from their bodies in an inaccurate way. “Sensory seeking” or “sensory avoiding” patterns, or “dyspraxia” (a motor planning problem) are the result of ineffective sensory processing. Carol Stock Kranowitz states the sensory integration dysfunction may affect 12% to 17% of children and throws some kids “out of sync” emotionally, socially, and behaviorally. Occupational therapy addresses the following areas as related to a child’s sensory integration needs:
- Inattention and a decreased ability to focus
- Difficulty with coordination
- Unusually high/low activity level
- Overly sensitive to touch, movements, sights, or sounds
- Under reactive to sensory stimulation
- Poor organization of behavior
- Poor self-concept and body awareness
Treatment services vary and are specifically designed to address the individual needs of children of all ages. Our philosophy is to support and build upon what the child already knows about the way their system processes and uses sensation and activity. In this, the child’s ability to interact with their environment is developed. The ultimate goal is for the individual to interact with his/her environment in more successful and adaptive manners.
In addition, group sessions are available:
- Therapy groups and specialized treatment programs including Handwriting Without Tears®, How Does Your Engine Run, Therapeutic Listening, and Brain Gym are also offered in order to achieve one’s individual goals.
- Social skill groups incorporating sensory integration and typically play-based activities are offered to further enhance skill development.