OT AND SENSORY PROCESSING
Occupational therapy (OT) is a health care profession and parents can benefit from knowing that OT’s form part of the allied medical profession. We use a knowledge base of neurology, anatomy, physiology, psychosocial development, activity task analysis and therapeutic techniques. OT’s are trained to treat a child holistically, addressing their cognitive, emotional and physical needs through functional, activity-based treatment.
OT aims to improve a person of any age’s occupational performance so that they can perform daily tasks at home, socially or at work. We can see premature infants and there is no upper age limit to receive occupational therapy.
In a paediatric setting we address functional problems in development that hinders play, self-care or learning. Children are commonly referred to OT for problems with attention and concentration, developmental delays including low muscle tone, gross- and fine motor problems, as well as academic difficulties and sensory processing difficulties which may also affect behaviour.
OT must be fun! Activities are selected that are of interest and have meaning for children, and of course meet specific therapeutic goals. Research has determined that when one is motivated and keen to partake in an activity, the brain pathways are formed more strongly. This mean stronger learning from learning to ride a bicycle to learning to write.
Sensory integration, now more commonly referred to as sensory processing, is the organization of sensations for use. Said by pioneer OT Jean Ayres. Our senses give us information about physical conditions of our body and the environment around us.
We have five senses (touch, smell, taste, vision and hearing), but also two other very important senses. Our vestibular sense is situated within the inner ear and detects movement and gravity. Our proprioceptive sense, which is comes from our muscles and joints, give us information about our body position.
Our brains must organize and make sense of all of these sensations, while keeping calm and responding in a “just right” manner. If not, development learning and behaviour can be affected to various degrees. The brain must sorts and order multiple sensations just like a traffic officer directs cars. When the flow of sensations is not effective, everyday life can feel like a rush-hour traffic jam. This can lead to many developmental problems as sensory integration is the foundation of a child’s development. The child will therefore not “feel in-sync”.
To determine how the child’s brain is processing sensory input, the OT will make use of clinical observations, parent report and a variety of standardized tests.
We are here to allow children to be as happy as they can be by means of them achieving their full potential!
Have a look at the videos below for some great insights into Sensory Processing Disorder and Sensory Integration.